Highlights from the 2017 Legislative Session

Posted on 15 April 2017

Today marks the final day of this legislative session. It has been a busy session seeing a good deal of movement. These are the 15 largest items to be enacted from this session.

1. Maryland Healthy Working Families Act: Businesses with 15 or more employees are now required to provide five paid sick days a year. Workers can accrue one sick hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours a year.

2. Hydraulic Fracturing Prohibition: Maryland has banned the use of the hydraulic fracturing process of natural gas extraction, known as fracking, through the state.

3. Protect Our Schools Act: Sets parameters for the Maryland Department of Education and school board in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which balance test scores with opportunity indicators to provide a fuller picture of student achievement. Also, prevents the state from privatizing lower-performing schools.

4. Maryland Defense Act: Empowers the Attorney General to bring civil or criminal charges against the federal government. The measure increases the state’s ability to pursue its own best interests when they conflict with the federal government.

5. Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act: Establishes a commission to monitor any federal changes to healthcare and provide recommendations to the state, and to local municipalities when appropriate, to mitigate those changes.

6. Continuity of Care: Ensures the continued funding of the services provided through Planned Parenthood throughout the state, regardless of changes made in federal funding.

7. Oyster Management Action: Bars watermen from oyster sanctuaries until the Department of Natural Resources can complete a survey, study, and report on them.

8. Cownose Rays Moratorium: Halts all fishing in Maryland water for cownose rays until July 1, 2019. Requires the Department of Natural Recourses to complete and present a management plan on cownose rays by December 31, 2018.

9. Collective Bargaining: Recognizes the right of the employees of Maryland Environmental Services to organize, like other state employees. Maryland Environmental Services will recognize the authority of an employee organization elected by the employees to represent them.

10. Prince George’s County Regional Medical Center Act: Provides $100 million from 2018 through 2028 for operating grants for the Prince George’s County Regional Medical Center.

11. Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Survivors: Increases the statute of limitations for a survivor of sexual abuse as a minor to file civil charges against the attacker from the survivor’s age of 25 to the age of 38.

12. Calculation of Energy Efficiency Cost-Effectiveness: Extends the EmPower Maryland Initiative of 2008, requiring the state’s top five electric utilities to provide their customers with energy-efficiency programs and services. The goal is to cut Maryland energy consumption by 2% per year.

13. Budget Reconciliation Act: The General Assembly passed a $1.1 billion budget, which included a revision on the adoption of new school construction moving the authority out of the Public Works Department. The new budget also includes $10 million allocated for combatting Maryland’s opioid abuse epidemic.

14. Study Universal Access to Prekindergarten: Establishes a working group to study the feasibility of offering universal access to prekindergarten for 4-year-olds throughout the state. The workgroup is tasked with creating and presenting an implementation plan to the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education by September 1, 2017.

15. Public Integrity Act: Tightens Maryland Ethics laws, increasing financial disclosure requirements and expanding the definition of what constitutes a conflict of interest for public officials.