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New Laws in Maryland Today

July 1st, 2017 by WCBC Radio

Beginning Saturday, Virginians will be able to buy Everclear, the minimum wage rises in D.C. and Maryland, and schools in Maryland will have to keep the drug-overdose treatment naloxone on hand.

Virginia will increase the pay of sheriff’s deputies and teachers and state workers. And drivers in the state could face a $100 fine for driving too slowly in the left lane.

Maryland lawmakers also tackled ethics and added measures intended to protect taxpayers from fraud.

Here are some of the change in state laws that kick in on July 1.

 

D.C.

The minimum wage in the District will tick up to $12.50 — a dollar increase from the current wage. A law passed last year will increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2020. The law calls for incremental increases in the meantime.

The minimum wage for workers who rely on tips — like servers — will rise to $5 by 2020. This year, tipped workers will earn a minimum $3.33 per hour.

Maryland

The minimum wage will also increase in Maryland from $8.75 to $9.25. A law passed in 2014 called for incremental increases with the goal of hitting $10.10 per hour in 2018. At the time the law was passed, the state’s minimum wage was just $7.25.

Additionally, lawmakers agreed to allow breweries to sell up to 2,000 barrels of a beer a year in an effort to secure a Guinness brewery in Baltimore County.

Brewers will also be able to buy another 1,000 barrels from distributors to sell in their taprooms. New breweries will have to close at 10 p.m., but existing breweries can maintain their hours.

Lawmakers also granted more power to the state comptroller to investigate tax fraud and protect taxpayers’ personal information. The law allows the Comptroller’s enforcement division the ability to seek injunctions against tax preparers suspected of fraud or criminal activity. Comptroller Peter Franchot pushed for the legislation after his office detected a high rate of questionable returns this tax season and suspended processing returns from 20 tax preparers.

Reforms to the state’s ethics laws clarifies the definition of a conflict of interest and extends how long state officials must wait after leaving service to become lobbyists.

A jobs bill gives tax breaks and incentives to manufacturers who add jobs in parts of the state where the unemployment rate is higher than the statewide average.

Lawmakers also provided $2.7 million in backup funding should federal funds for Planned Parenthood be pulled. The bill would ensure access to preventive car services at Planned Parenthood’s nine health centers in the state if the federal government cut funding for the organization, which also provides abortions.

All schools in Maryland are required to keep the overdose treatment drug naloxone on hand and to extend training to designated staff, not just school nurses. Legislation also requires school to provide prevention education to students beginning in elementary school as part of the state’s efforts to combat the opioid addiction crisis.

Virginia

Drivers could pay a $100 fine if they are caught dawdling in the left lane, blocking faster-moving traffic. Virginia law requires motorists to drive in the right lane — the left lane is for passing — but the state never had a penalty associated with the violation.

Lawmakers originally proposed a $250 fine, but amended the bills at Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s request.

Virginia lawmakers also passed a laws intended to address the growing opioid crisis. The laws would allow local health departments to establish a needle exchange program and gives community organizations the ability to dispense the overdose treatment drug naloxone.

State-owned liquor stores will sell 151-proof clear grain alcohol, like Everclear. McAuliffe agreed to the change after vetoing a similar bill last year.

Women in Virginia will also be able to buy a year’s supply of birth control instead of just a few month’s worth. The bill however doesn’t require medical providers to write a 12-month prescription. Advocates said it will help prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Public schools will be required to teach young drivers instruction on what to do during a traffic stop including what appropriate actions drivers should take and how to interact with police. Del. Jeion Ward, who sponsored the bill, said she wants to make sure that new drivers are informed so that routine interactions don’t escalate.

Virginians are also less likely to lose their driver’s license for a first-time marijuana offense under changes that take effect Saturday. Previously the penatly came with an automatic suspension of six months.


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