NEW YEAR, NEW LAWS: New laws that took effect on the first day of 2024 have bumped Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 an hour for most employers, broadened insurance coverage, extended the list of counties with plastic bag bans, and attempted to rein in telemarketers. Here’s a list of what’s coming in the new year. Dan Belson/The Baltimore Sun.
- Beginning Jan. 1, low-income, transgender adults in Maryland will have their gender-affirming care covered by the state’s Medicaid system. For the state’s LGBTQ+ community, this is a reason to celebrate — “especially at a time when, across the country, we’ve seen this concerted effort to attack trans rights and many other rights,” said Sam Williamson, one of the founders of the Trans Rights Advocacy Coalition. Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.
- Maryland’s Office of Home Energy Programs helps low-income households cover their energy costs. Starting in 2024, the office will enroll any resident who meets the eligibility for certain social support programs in a fuel and utility assistance program. The law also expands electric bill assistance to Marylanders with an annual income of 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Banner.
- Several measures are aimed to improve access to health care in 2024. The state is requiring health insurance carriers to cover breast cancer exams with a new law that prohibits insurers from collecting a co-payment, co-insurance or deductibles. Insurance companies must also provide coverage for lung cancer diagnostic imaging with a law that limits co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles for screening and diagnosis. Dave Collins/WBAL-TV News.
LAWMAKERS TARGET TWEAKS TO JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM LAWS: Some lawmakers, state’s attorneys and law enforcement officials want tweaks made to the new juvenile justice law when the next legislative session begins Jan. 10. Among the proposals are changes to the Child Interrogation Protection Act that went into effect Oct. 1, 2022. William Ford/Maryland Matters.
COULD THE ORIOLES STILL BE SOLD? When the Baltimore Orioles and the state of Maryland announced they had agreed to a 30-year lease extension at Camden Yards, it seemingly put to bed all the rumors about the franchise being sold to another party. There were fears that outside investors could use this opportunity to move a team to Nashville. But, the Orioles are staying at Camden Yards for the foreseeable future and thoughts about a sale are now over. Well, not necessarily. Brad Wakai/Sports Business Journal.
PETER ANGELOS WANTS TEAM SOLD UPON HIS DEATH: Peter Angelos, the 94-year-old owner of the Baltimore Orioles, has made it clear what he wants to happen with his team upon his death: His family should sell. John Angelos, Peter’s oldest son and the Orioles’ chief executive, appears to have other plans. While this article is behind a paywall, if you click the “listening” icon, a short version of the article will be read aloud. Lindsey Adler and Jared Diamond/The Wall Street Journal.
COLUMN: ARUNDEL’s PLASTIC BAG ‘BAN’ LESS THAN IT SEEMS: Whatever it is called, Anne Arundel joins a growing list of Maryland jurisdictions with bans — well, restrictions — on plastic bags. Baltimore and Howard counties and Baltimore City have similar laws. Annapolis won’t be covered by the new law. Plastic bags are a virus that multiplies and spreads with an almost intelligent design. How many are tucked under your sink or squirreled away in a closet somewhere? How did they get there? Rick Hutzell/The Baltimore Banner.
HAGERSTOWN GROCER’s LAWSUIT ALTERS FEDERAL SNAP RULE: A federal regulation that prevented most people with drug and alcohol convictions from becoming vendors that accept food benefits has been changed after a Hagerstown grocer won his lawsuit with the federal government in December. Under new regulations, that prohibition will largely be limited to vendors who committed drug and alcohol offenses on their store property. Emily Hofstaedter/WYPR-FM.
PG COUNCILWOMAN CHANGES LAW TO ATTEND MEETINGS REMOTELY: A bill co-sponsored by the Prince George’s County councilmember lawmaker this past fall was a procedural change that would allow county council members to vote virtually if they are experiencing illness, parental leave or “a significant or unexpected factor or event” outside their control. Krystal Oriadha (D) was eight months into her first pregnancy. But during meetings at county headquarters, she would munch on ice and pickles to quell her nausea, her swollen feet shoved into the neon sneakers that still fit. But Oriadha, now 37, wanted to continue attending meetings, even if she couldn’t do so in person. She thought it would be an easy vote. She was wrong. Lateshia Beachum/The Washington Post.
BALTIMORE HOMICIDES IN 2023 STAY BELOW 300 MARK: The number of killings in Baltimore stayed below the 300 mark for 2023, landing at 262. Officials say the media has inflated the significance of the figure: Whether 299 or 301 people are killed, one is too many. Still, officials acknowledge its symbolic power, including as a litmus test for mayors, and its ability to elude leaders in recent years. The decline in homicides coincided with a slight decrease year over year in nonfatal shootings, yet the number of gun violence victims under the age of 18 rose. Darcy Costello/The Baltimore Sun.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE HELPS NBA PLAYERS TO GIVE BACK: Since being named the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association Foundation in November 2022, former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has worked to coordinate and promote the charitable work of the league’s players. The foundation partnered in November 2023 with Team Rubicon, a veteran-led global humanitarian organization, to help communities struck by natural disasters. Edward Lee/The Baltimore Sun.
ERNIE GRECCO, AFL-CIO PRES, ONCE SERVED ON RACING COMMISSION, DIES: Ernest “Ernie” Grecco, a longtime president of the Metropolitan Baltimore AFL-CIO Council and a former member of the Maryland Racing Commission, died in his sleep on Dec. 13 at Harmony Hall in Columbia. He was 81. Tony Roberts/The Baltimore Sun.
FORMER STATE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER PETERS DIES AT 60: Doug J.J. Peters, a U.S. Army Reserve veteran and former Maryland Senate majority leader from Prince George’s County, died Saturday at the age of 60. The cause was complications from multiple myeloma. Lateshia Beachum/The Washington Post.
- Peters, a Democrat, was elected to the first of his four terms in the Senate in 2006. He announced his resignation from the Senate in July 2021. The effective date of July 30 marked the 33rd anniversary of the marriage to his wife Corinne Peters. He was appointed that year to serve on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and the University of Maryland Medical System board of directors. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.