Ocean City Today

Effective date of hundreds of new laws passes in state

Rules concerning alcohol, education and environment most likely to impact locals
By Brian Gilliland | Jul 06, 2017

(July 7, 2017) Late last week, the Department of Legislative Services released its report of all of the legislation passed in the General Assembly at the beginning of the year that takes effect on July 1.

From the report, it seems that many places in Maryland are dealing with increased demand from local bars, brewers and distillers, as a sizable percentage of the total number of laws that took effect last Saturday had something to do with alcohol consumption.

Worcester was not immune to this effect, as its state senator, Jim Mathias (D-38) sponsored a law now in effect to allow the local Board of License Commissioners to approve one-day only beer and wine tasting licenses to the Ocean City convention center. The board may approve up to two of these permits annually.

Mathias had one other piece of legislation go into effect last week, which exempts taxpayers applying for certain tax credits electronically. The exemption is only available via written request to the comptroller, and must show reasonable cause for or undue hardship because of the electronic filing mandate.

Another measure that went into effect on July 1 was The More Jobs for Marylanders Act, which offers tax credits for specified manufacturing businesses if they increase employment and offer job training.

The bill also establishes tax credits for businesses that employ an eligible apprentice, scholarships for students in a job skills program at community college, requires vocational goals to be set for high school students and requires the state to track the apprenticeship programs.

HB 252 and SB 281 redefine liquor and raise the alcohol by content percentage of hard cider, respectively, as the former prohibits beer and wine license holders from selling “wine” that is greater than 44 proof and the latter raises the hard cider limit from seven to eight and one-half percent.

Dispensing draft beer in non-refillable containers under certain conditions is now allowed by HB 292.

Moving to education, SB 485 establishes a grant program for public schools to purchase technology to allow students with medical conditions to participate in classrooms if in-person attendance is not possible.

SB 622 exempts the first $40 on a backpack or bookbag purchase from sales tax, if bought during a tax-free school supplies holiday.

Small community colleges, like Wor-Wic, will see an increase to its unrestricted state aid beginning in fiscal 2019 because of SB 521.

The State Board of Education, next year, requires all personnel who have direct contact with students to complete annual training in identifying suicide risk and have knowledge of resources to provide to students in crisis because of HB 920.

More generally, HB 1522 directs the departments of education and health and mental hygiene to perform a study of behavioral health options at the schools.

Students will also get their own form of parental time off, as pregnancy or parental needs now count as lawful absences, and each county must now develop a policy to allow at least 10 days of excused absences after the birth of a parenting student’s child.

Licenses pharmacists will be able, after certain circumstances are met and after Jan. 1, 2019, to prescribe contraceptives because of HB 613.

Video lottery terminals in the county are currently technically owned by the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, but SB 495 allows the facilities that house the terminals to now own or lease them, which matches what is going on in other areas.

The Clean Water Commerce Act of 2017 allows Bay Restoration funds to be used to purchase nutrient load reductions, while HB 406 extends tax credits for installing electric vehicle recharging stations.

By July 1, 2019, the Maryland Department of Environment will have produced a study to review and make recommendations on the idea to divert yard waste, food residuals and other organic materials from traditional solid waste facilities.

To prevent double-dipping, counties are now prohibited by SB 273 from receiving revenues from state parks if the county has already received a payment from the state in the same fiscal year.

Domestic partnerships are exempt from inheritance taxes with the adoption of HB 1104, so long as that partnership can be proven.

Counties or municipalities that received overpayments due to an accounting error last year are no longer required to repay the money due to HB 1433, but had previously been on a 10-year, zero interest repayment schedule.

HB 1345 established the National Capital Strategic Economic Development fund, which will provide grants to government and nonprofit community development organizations to acquire or assemble land, develop a site or provide for architecture and engineering services.

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