ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland General Assembly’s 90-day legislative session ends at midnight Monday. A look at some of the legislation lawmakers have approved this year:
An incentive package with tax breaks and infrastructure improvements worth billions of dollars has been approved to try to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to Montgomery County. A legislative analysis estimates the package is valued at about $8.5 billion, but Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration says it’s just over $5 billion.
AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION
State agencies have been designated to automatically register residents to vote, unless the applicant declines to register or is determined not to be eligible.
The state’s $44.5 billion budget includes about $41 million for school safety and sets aside about $200 million for future education funding.
Health professionals will be prohibited from practicing “gay conversion therapy” on minors.
Lawmakers approved a crime package that includes expanding wiretapping authority for prosecutors on gun investigations. It also increases penalties for witness intimidation and includes a provision to help prosecute volume dealers of fentanyl, a lethal opioid.
Maryland will end its tie between the state’s estate tax and the federal government’s estate tax, freezing the Maryland exemption at $5 million.
A ban on devices called bump stocks that can increase a semi-automatic rifle’s firing rate has been approved. Lawmakers also approved a bill to enable judges to order people to temporarily give up their firearms, if they are found to pose an immediate threat. They also approved a bill to ensure gun owners convicted of domestic violence surrender their guns.
GREENHOUSE GAS INITIATIVE
Maryland won’t be able to withdraw from a regional partnership to fight climate change known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative without legislative approval.
HEALTH CARE STABILIZATION
A plan to stabilize health insurance rates in the Maryland Health Care Exchange’s distressed individual market would tap about $380 million that health insurance companies no longer have to pay in federal taxes due to changes in the federal tax code and create a reinsurance program.
State-run hospitals will have 10 business days to accept court-ordered transfers from jails to hospitals.
A measure to help improve diversity in the state’s medical marijuana industry was passed.
Maryland will contribute $167 million annually to support the Metro as part of an agreement with Virginia and the District of Columbia to provide $500 million a year.
POLICE CORRUPTION COMMISSION
A special state commission with subpoena power would be created to conduct a 20-month investigation into Baltimore police corruption. The Restore Trust in Policing Commission is in response to corruption in the police department’s Gun Trace Task Force.
Correctional facilities will be required to develop written policies on medical care for pregnant inmates and detainees.
Correctional facilities will be required to provide free feminine hygiene products on request.
Impregnated rape victims will be able to ask judges to end the parental rights of their rapists.
Maryland will move the authority of approving school construction money from the Board of Public Works to a state commission.
SCHOOLS FUNDING-BALLOT QUESTION
The legislature voted to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to decide whether casino revenue set aside for schools must be used to enhance education funding above the amount now required in state formulas.
A variety of initiatives to improve school safety include a requirement for public high schools to either have a school resource officer or plans for adequate law enforcement coverage by the start of the upcoming school year. Other schools, including middle and elementary schools, will have until the following school year that begins in 2019 to either have an officer in school or a plan for law enforcement response.
A framework for an independent investigator to handle sexual-harassment complaints against legislators was approved. The General Assembly’s policy also was changed to cover lobbyists.
SOCIAL MEDIA-POLITICAL ADS
Social media platforms like Facebook will be required to maintain records on political ads.
A $250 increase in the standard deduction for single people and a $500 increase for couples have been approved to return about $87 million to taxpayers to bring some relief to residents who will face higher state taxes due to changes in the federal tax overhaul.
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