By Meg Tully
Scores of laws passed during this year’s General Assembly session go into effect Monday.
Some key new laws Oct. 1 include measures to:
– Ban spoofing phone calls
– Stop the distribution of electronic cigarettes to minors
– Create a new extreme risk protective order (red flag) that will take guns away from alleged abusers
– Shrink the period required for driving learner’s permits from nine months to three
– Require parental leave and breast milk expressing breaks for state employees
– Outline new responses to cyberbullying in the public schools and sexual assault in the universities
– Hold offshore drilling companies liable for spills
Yellow Signal Compliance (HB 204): Prevents law enforcement agencies from giving citations for red light cameras unless the traffic control signal complies with yellow light timing requirements set in regulations adopted by the State Highway Administration, and consistent with standards or guidelines established by the Federal Highway Administration.
Learner’s Permits – Minimum Duration (SB 424): Reduces the period of time from nine months to three months that young adults under age 25 holding a learner’s permit must wait before taking a drivers skills examination or driver road examination.
Motor Vehicle Administration – Birth Certificates – Issuance of Copies (SB 38): Authorizes the Motor Vehicle Administration to provide copies of birth certificates for a fee, and allows the MVA to access copies of birth certificates electronically from the Maryland Department of Health. This should make it easier to provide documentation for driver’s licenses or identification cards, but won’t immediately be put into practice until a new electronic system is up, according to a legislative analysis.
Renaming Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge (HB0004) The Maryland Transportation Authority will rename the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge as the Harry W. Nice/Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge in honor of the state senator.
CRIMINAL LAW & GUNS
Crimes of Violence, Expungement, and Drug Treatment (SB 101): Establishes a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for a second violent crime conviction. Also changes the definition of a “crime of violence” by replacing the use of “handgun” with “firearm” for use in the commission of a crime of violence or felony. This would expand those who are subject to existing statutory penalties like mandatory minimum sentences.
Wearing, Carrying, or Transporting Loaded Handgun – Subsequent Offender(HB 1029): Establishes that the minimum sentence is mandatory for anyone violating the state’s ban on wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun loaded with ammunition on themselves or in a vehicle.
Animal Cruelty – Sentencing Conditions(SB 1038): When people are convicted for animal cruelty related to dogfighting or cockfighting, the court may now include a ban on owning or residing with an animal as a sentencing condition.
Firearm Crimes – Rapid Fire Trigger Activator(SB 707): Bans rapid fire trigger activators (bump stock) from being sold or transferred in the state, and adds more stringent penalties for using one during the commission of a felony or crime of violence. A ban on ownership without authorization from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives doesn’t take effect until Oct. 1, 2019.
Hate Crimes – Group Victim (HB 700/SB 528): Clarifies that hate crimes include crimes against a group rather than specific individuals. This came about after two students at Crofton High School were charged with a hate crime for allegedly hanging a noose. One of the students was found not guilty of the hate crime charge because his attorney argued the statute was for hate crimes against individuals, not a group such as African Americans in general.
Law Enforcement – Prohibition on Sexual Activity (HB 1292): Prohibits a law enforcement officer from engaging in a sexual act, sexual contact, or vaginal intercourse with a person in the custody of the law enforcement officer; and providing a person found guilty of a violation is subject to imprisonment of up to 3 years and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
State Personnel – Rights and Protections for Nursing Mothers (HB 306): Requires the state to provide reasonable break time for state employees to express breast milk after the child’s birth, but does not require the breaks be paid. Also requires the state provide a place for employees to express breast milk.
State Employees – Parental Leave (SB 859):Provides 60 days of paid parental leave for state employees following the birth or adoption of a child under the age of six.
Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, and Intimidation – School Response (SB 725): School principals are authorized to make a report to law enforcement if, after an investigation is completed, the school principal has reason to believe that a student is guilty of first-degree assault, second-degree assault, misuse of electronic communication or interactive computer service, or revenge porn.
Howard County Student Loan Assistance Repayment Program for Teachers Ho. Co. (HB 1180): Authorizes Howard County to start the Howard County Student Loan Assistance Repayment Program for Teachers to attract, recruit, and retain a diverse cadre of qualified teachers.
Defendants Found Incompetent to Stand Trial Or Not Criminally Responsible – Commitment (HB 111/SB 233): Requires the Maryland Department of Health to admit people to mental health hospitals within 10 days after a court order. Court orders come after it is decided that the defendant is incompetent to stand trial and a danger to themselves or others, or upon verdict of Not Criminally Responsible. Judges had complained of a lag in mental health admissions after court orders.
Health Care Providers – Opioid and Benzodiazepine Prescriptions – Discussion of Benefits and Risks (HB 653/SB 522): Requires health care providers give advice on the benefits and risks associated with the prescription of opioids and benzodiazepines.
Local Government – Splash Pads – Regulations (SB 924/HB 1217): Authorizes local government regulation of sanitary features of splash pads — outdoor play areas with sprinklers or fountains.
Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program – Sunset Extension of Repeal of Subsidy for Medicare Part D Coverage Gap (SB 1208/HB 1766): Extends the Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program to December 31, 2024. Repeals the subsidy for the Medicare Part D coverage cap.
Public Health – Cottage Food Products – Definition (HB 1106): Allows people selling food from their houses, or by personal or mail delivery to qualify as a “cottage food product” “not subject to Maryland’s food safety regulations.” This would expand the cottage food industry from farmer’s markets.
Conversion Therapy for Minors – Prohibition (Youth Mental Health Protection Act) (SB 1028): Prohibits mental health or child care practitioners from using “conversion therapy” on children. Conversion therapy is defined as a practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Distribution of Electronic Cigarettes to Minors – Prohibition and Penalties (HB 1094/SB 900): Makes it a criminal misdemeanor to distribute electronic nicotine delivery system to minors. Establishes civil penalties for minors possessing e-cigarettes. Increases civil penalties for subsequent violations of distributing e-cigarettes to minors.
Natalie M. Laprade Medical Cannabis Commission Reform Act (HB 2): Encourages participation of small, minority and women business owners in the medical cannabis industry. It also establishes a “compassionate use” special fund to provide free or discounted cannabis to eligible individuals enrolled in Medicaid or the Veterans Administration Maryland Health Care System. Only some provisions of this law go into effect Monday.
Open Meetings Act – Closed Meetings – Cybersecurity (HB 695): Authorizes a public body to meet in a closed session to discuss cybersecurity if the public discussion would constitute a risk to security assessments, deployments, or implementation of security personnel, critical infrastructure, or security devices.
Consumer Protection – Caller ID Spoofing Ban of 2018 (HB 1090): Prohibits “Caller ID spoofing” to transmit false or misleading caller identification information when making phone calls.
Commissioner of Financial Regulation – Consumer Reporting Agencies (HB 848): Extends oversight over Consumer Reporting Agencies (also known as credit reporting agencies) by requiring secure electronic methods for placing and removing security freezes. It also establishes a procedure for receiving and investigating complaints about the agencies. This law comes after Equifax had a September 2017 breach affecting about 143 million people, including nearly 3 million Maryland residents.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT
Higher Education – Sexual Assault Policy – Disciplinary Proceedings Provisions (SB 607/HB 913): Requires new written disciplinary proceedings provisions for sexual assault cases at colleges and universities. The new procedures must be submitted to the Maryland Higher Education Commission by Aug. 1, 2019. The law also requires that the MHEC pay for attorneys for both the students complaining about sexual assault and students responding to the complaint in the higher education investigation proceedings.
Domestic Violence – Definition of Abuse (SB 121):This law expands the definition of abuse for petitions for domestic violence protective orders to include “revenge porn.”
Domestic Violence – Permanent Protective Orders (HB 1303/ SB 491): Expands the situations in which a court could issue a permanent protective order for abuse.
Extreme Risk Protective Orders (HB 1302): Creates “an extreme risk” protective order (red flag law) that will prevent accused abusers from possessing a firearm or ammunition if the commissioner or judge finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing injury with the firearm. For a final order, a higher standard of clear and convincing evidence must be present. Guns will be surrendered to law enforcement.
Offshore Drilling Liability Act (HB 1456): Establishes that an offshore drilling activity is an ultrahazardous and abnormally dangerous activity. Holds a person that causes a spill of oil or gas while drilling strictly liable for damages.
Commercial Oyster Divers (HB 1137): Provides harvesters business flexibility to be able to work with a diver and/or attendant who does not possess an oyster authorization. It also codifies existing regulations that no more than two divers can work from a boat at a time.
Tax Sales – Homeowner Protections (HB 1465, SB 952 is similar): Prevents residential properties from being sold at tax sale when total taxes due on the property amount to less than $750, and requires mailings for tax sales to include information about how a homeowner my access services and programs to avoid tax sale costs or foreclosure.
Deletion of Ownership Restrictions Based on Race, Religious Belief, or National Origin (SB 621): This law requires homeowners associations to delete any recorded covenant or restriction that restricts ownership based on race, religious belief, or national origin from the common area deeds or other declarations of property in the development on or before September 30, 2019. These restrictions were already unenforceable but this will remove them from documents.
NEW GRANT PROGRAMS
Maryland Prenatal and Infant Care Coordination Services Grant Program Fund (Thrive by Three Fund) (HB 1685/ SB 912): Establishes a fund to make grants to counties and municipalities to provide care coordination services to low–income pregnant and postpartum women and to children from birth to three years old. Requires the governor to include $50,000 in the annual budget for the fund beginning in fiscal year 2020.
Ending Youth Homelessness Act of 2018 (SB 1218): The Ending Youth Homelessness Grant Program will focus on preventing and ending youth homelessness and address disparities based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.