During this year’s legislative session, progressive Maryland state lawmakers secured victories on policies to put more money in the pockets of working people, lower the cost of health care, care for our environment, improve access to early and higher education, strengthen our democracy and more.
Highlights of legislation passed by the General Assembly include:
A $15 Minimum Wage!
Sponsored by Sen. McCray and Del. Fennell, this became law March 28 when the legislature overrode the governor’s veto. The law will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 (and 2026 for businesses with fewer than 15 employees).
A first-in-the-nation Prescription Drug Affordability Board!
Authored by Sen. Klausmeier and Del. Peña-Melnyk, this bill will create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board that will have the authority to establish maximum costs to be paid by state and local governments for certain high-cost medications.
A Styrofoam Ban!
Sen. Kagan and Del. Lierman sponsored this Styrofoam Ban, making Maryland the first state in the nation to do so. Passed with bipartisan support, this legislation will help Maryland reach its goal of diverting 85% of waste by reduction, reuse, and recycling by 2040.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act!
In a major environmental achievement, Sen. Feldman and Del. Lisanti passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act. This legislation requires utilities to buy a certain percentage of electricity each year from renewable sources, taking it from the current target of 25% by 2020 to 50% by 2030.
The Maryland Health Insurance Option!
Another first-in-the-nation bill passed by Maryland! Sen. Feldman and Del. Peña-Melnyk sponsored this bill establishing the Maryland Health Insurance Option designed to facilitate insurance coverage through a check box on Maryland Tax Returns. The bill is expected to lead to tens of thousands of Marylanders signing up for health insurance, which will expand the pool of people who are insured and bring down premium costs for other enrollees.
The Maryland Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
Sen. King and Del. Kelly passed this important bill to increase funding for the Maryland Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which will benefit approximately 110,000 Marylanders who are currently struggling to pay for adequate child care.
Election Day Voter Registration!
Maryland voters approved Election Day registration last year and it will now be implemented under this bill authored by Sen. Pinsky and Del. Reznik. It is expected to increase Maryland voter turnout between 3% and 7%.
Del. Pam Queen passed the Equal Pay Remedies and Enforcement Act which requires an employer to pay a civil penalty for violating the Equal Pay for Equal Work Law.
Oversight of For-Profit Colleges
This first-in-the-nation bill protects students by combating the emerging trend of for-profit colleges becoming non-profit entities to evade regulations. This was sponsored by Sen. Pinsky and Del. Hettleman.