New state laws to take ef­fect July 1; in­clude fraud up­date

Opi­oid ed­u­ca­tion, brew­ery reg­u­la­tions on list

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY BRIAN WITTE

AN­NAPO­LIS | New laws tak­ing ef­fect in Mary­land in­clude steps to pro­vide fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood to mit­i­gate po­ten­tial fed­eral cuts and re­quire schools to teach about the dan­gers of opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

A state tax break for emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel also is go­ing into ef­fect, along with mea­sures aimed at pro­tect­ing bees and open­ing the na­tion’s only Guin­ness brew­ery.

Here’s a look at new laws tak­ing ef­fect on July 1: Planned Par­ent­hood

Mary­land’s leg­is­la­ture, which is con­trolled by Democrats, was the first in the coun­try to pass leg­is­la­tion this year to back­fill po­ten­tial fed­eral cuts to Planned Par­ent­hood. Sup­port­ers say it will help pro­tect ac­cess to pre­ven­ta­tive care ser­vices for nearly 25,000 Planned Par­ent­hood pa­tients at nine health cen­ters in the state, if the fed­eral gov­ern­ment cuts fund­ing.

It di­rects $2 mil­lion from Mary­land’s Med­i­caid bud­get and $700,000 from the state’s gen­eral fund to fam­ily-plan­ning ser­vices. The leg­is­la­ture passed the bill with enough votes to over­ride a veto from Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan, and the bill be­came law with­out his sig­na­ture.

Tax­payer pro­tec­tion

Safe­guards aimed at pro­tect­ing Mary­land tax­pay­ers from tax fraud and iden­tity theft take ef­fect. The law strength­ens the abil­ity of the comptroller’s of­fice to stop tax fraud, pro­tect tax­payer in­for­ma­tion and hold fraud­u­lent fil­ers and tax pre­par­ers ac­count­able.

The law gives added re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to the Field En­force­ment Divi­sion of the Comptroller’s Of­fice to in­ves­ti­gate po­ten­tial tax fraud.

Opi­oid ed­u­ca­tion

The Start Talk­ing Mary­land Act re­quires Mary­land schools to have specific ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams on opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

It re­quires pub­lic schools to in­clude the dan­gers of heroin and opi­oids in drug ed­u­ca­tion start­ing as early as third grade and into col­lege. It also re­quires pub­lic schools to have nalox­one, which can re­verse opi­oid over­doses. Schools also are re­quired to have staff trained to use nalox­one.

Home­town he­roes

A state tax break is go­ing into ef­fect on re­tire­ment in­come of law en­force­ment, fire, res­cue or emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel who are 55 or older. The law ex­empts the first $15,000 of re­tire­ment in­come from state taxes.

Min­i­mum wage

Mary­land’s min­i­mum wage will in­crease from $8.75 to $9.25, part of in­cre­men­tal in­creases ap­proved in 2014 to take place over sev­eral years.

Craft brew­eries

Brew­eries will be able to sell up to 2,000 bar­rels of beer an­nu­ally, up from 500 bar­rels. The change in the law was made to pave the way for Di­a­geo to put a Guin­ness brew­ery in the for­mer Sea­gram’s bot­tling plant in Bal­ti­more County.

The es­ti­mated $50 mil­lion project will be the only Guin­ness brew­ery in the United States. A small-scale brew­ing op­er­a­tion and tap­room is ex­pected to open this fall, with a full brew­ery and vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence slated to open in the spring of next year. The fa­cil­ity will brew Guin­ness Blonde Amer­i­can lager for na­tional sup­ply. Guin­ness hasn’t had a brew­ery in the United States in more than 60 years.

Pol­li­na­tor pro­tec­tion

In an­other step to help bees, pes­ti­cides known to harm them will be pro­hib­ited on state land des­ig­nated as pol­li­na­tor habi­tat. Last year, Mary­land ap­proved a law to des­ig­nate pol­li­na­tor habi­tat on state agency lands, but it did not pro­hibit the use of harm­ful pes­ti­cides.

The new law al­lows ex­cep­tions for pub­lic health emer­gen­cies. It also gives state agen­cies free­dom to des­ig­nate which of their lands are pro­tected and which are not. Last year’s Pol­li­na­tor Pro­tec­tion Act made Mary­land’s leg­is­la­ture the first in the coun­try to re­strict con­sumer use of neon­ics, pes­ti­cides known to harm bees.

Health Depart­ment

The state health depart­ment is chang­ing its name from the Mary­land Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene to the Mary­land Health Depart­ment.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mary­land’s leg­is­la­ture was the first in the coun­try to pass leg­is­la­tion this year to back­fill po­ten­tial fed­eral cuts to Planned Par­ent­hood. Sup­port­ers say it will help pro­tect ac­cess for nearly 25,000 at nine cen­ters in the state.

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