ANNAPOLIS, MD — The Maryland state legislature wrapped up its 2018 session Monday evening with several important wins for working families in the state, including creating transparency for online political ads, protecting affordable health care, providing access to paid sick days, expanding voter participation, protecting the Chesapeake Bay economy against negative consequences from offshore drilling, investing additional resources in public education, funding to fight the opioid epidemic, and reducing gun violence.
Highlights of the session include:
- Defending Our Democracy: To provide much needed regulation and transparency to online political ads, Maryland legislators passed HB981, which requires social media platforms to track political ads and post publicly who paid for the advertisement and how much money was spent.
- Protecting Affordable Health Care: The legislature took major steps to protect Marylanders’ health coverage and prevent huge price hikes with a first-in-the-nation measure, HB1781, to tax health insurance companies and use the revenue to create a state reinsurance program, which covers the most expensive claims from residents on the state’s insurance marketplace.
- Providing Access to Paid Sick Days: The legislature overrode Gov. Hogan’s veto of the Healthy Working Families Act, HB1, to require all businesses with more than 15 employees to provide earned sick time for employees. The law, which took effect in February 2018, will help 700,000 Marylanders earn the benefit.
- Expanding Voter Participation: As part of a national trend, the legislature took steps to increase voter participation and ensure all eligible voters can cast a ballot. Maryland passed SB1048 which allows voters to be automatically registered to vote at any state agency, including when they get a driver’s license. The legislature also passed Election Day Registration, HB532, which puts a question on the November ballot to allow Marylanders to register to vote up to and on Election Day.
- Protecting Marylanders from Offshore Drilling: In response to President Trump’s new rules to allow offshore drilling in much of America’s coastal waters, the Maryland legislature passed HB1456, which increases the liability oil companies face for spills, with the support of Gov. Hogan.
- Funding for Education and to Fight the Opioid Epidemic: The legislature funded an additional $200 million for public education and nearly $40 million to fight the state’s opioid epidemic (SB185).
- Reducing Gun Violence: Lawmakers also passed legislation, HB888, to ban bump stocks, which are used to turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons, and a “red flag” law, HB1302, which will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people by allowing police officers or family members to ask a court to issue an extreme risk protection order for someone at risk of harming themselves or others.