Measures to protect students from sexual abuse and to examine ways of lowering high prescription drug costs are among new laws that took effect July 1 in Maryland.
Under one of the new laws that took effect, schools will be prohibited from entering into nondisclosure agreements involving sexual misconduct by school employees.
Several states have made similar laws in recent years to stop what supporters of the measure often refer to as “passing the trash.” Supporters of the Maryland law say many parents often have not been aware that schools have been bound by separation agreements and could not mention allegations of employee misconduct, which allows accused educators to move from job to job.
The Maryland law, which applies to public and private schools, prohibits schools from expunging data from personnel files in cases of employee sexual misconduct.
In a separate new Maryland law, the state will be able to create a review board on prescription drug costs. The five board members haven’t been named yet. Supporters say the law is a step toward creating an independent board with the authority to evaluate expensive drugs and recommend methods for addressing high costs.
The board will be able to set upper-payment limits on prescription drug costs for state and local governments, with approval from a legislative panel, in 2022.
Another new law is designed to protect oysters. Five oyster sanctuaries are permanently protected to prohibit catching oysters in them. The sanctuaries are in Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River and the Manokin River.
Here are some other laws taking effect:
• Regents transparency: A new law is aimed at increasing transparency at the University of Maryland Board of Regents, after concerns were raised about the handling of a University of Maryland football player’s death last year. It will be required to livestream meetings online, add four members to the 17-member board and include votes from open and closed meetings in publicly available meeting minutes.
• Brewery modernization: Maryland updated laws regarding the craft beer industry. It increased taproom sales, production capabilities, self-distribution limits and hours of operation.
• Marijuana ownership: A person now can have ownership interest in up to four licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. State law also clarifies the existing limit of one ownership interest for licensed growers and codifies a limit of one ownership interest for licensed processors.
• Clean cars: The state expanded a tax credit for qualified plug-in electric vehicles to $3,000.
• Opportunity Zones: Tax incentives are extended under Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s More Jobs for More Marylanders program to the state’s 149 Opportunity Zones.
• Child tax credit: The state’s child and dependent care tax credit expanded to make the credit refundable to taxpayers with federal adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less.
• State employee raises: Most state employees get a 3% pay raise.
• Baltimore-campus police: Johns Hopkins University can create its own armed police force at its academic campuses and main medical campus in Baltimore.
• Ocean City Convention Center: The Maryland Stadium Authority is authorized to issue new bonds and financing terms to renovate and expand the Ocean City Convention Center.
• New college name: The University of Maryland University College is changing its name to University of Maryland Global Campus.