Every year, Maryland’s legislature enacts new laws that impact the lives of Maryland residents. Laws are enacted or changed that relate to criminal defense or personal injury. Some laws are designed to improve the environment or make our lives better.

Let’s take a closer look at five of the new laws in Maryland in 2020 that are expected to have a significant impact on the lives of many residents throughout the state.

Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention – Crime Firearms Study

This new law is relevant, given the increase in firearm use in the United States. Lawmakers intended to use data to gain a better understanding of how criminals obtain firearms. With a better understanding of how guns end up in the hands of criminals, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers can address the situation more effectively.

The law requires that the Governor’s Office collect data related to crimes involving firearms. Examples of the data that will be collected include:

  • Types of guns used in crimes;
  • The personal identification data for people who use guns to commit crimes (age, gender, residence, etc.);
  • Charges related to gun use;
  • Convictions of crimes involving gun use;
  • Illegal transportation of firearms; and,
  • The illegal possession or transfer of firearms.

The collection of data extends through December 31, 2020.

Expanded Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Firefighters With Cancer

The new law is named for Firefighter Jesse McCullough, who was a Prince George’s firefighter. He died from an occupational disease in 2018. The law expanded workers’ compensation benefits for firefighters with cancer.

Under the new law, a firefighter is presumed to have an occupational illness if:

  • The firefighter’s diagnosed with a covered cancer caused by contact with a toxic substance in the line of duty;
  • Has ten years of service as a firefighter in Maryland; and,
  • Is unable to perform regular duties required by a firefighter.

By expanding the presumption of an occupational illness to cancer caused by exposure to a toxic substance, firefighters should find it easier to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Maryland Bans Styrofoam

The Maryland legislature passed a bill in 2019 that banned the use of foodservice products consisting of Styrofoam. The products include takeout containers, plates, and other food service products made from the material. Governor Larry Hogan declined to sign or veto the law, thereby allowing the bill to become law without any action from his office.

The Styrofoam ban becomes effective on July 1, 2020. After that date, a person may not sell or offer to sell any Styrofoam foodservice product in Maryland.

Foodservice businesses and schools may not offer or sell food or beverages in a Styrofoam product. The law does not apply to food packaged outside of Maryland.

Organ Donors Guaranteed Leave From Work

Live organ and bone marrow donors help save the lives of thousands of people in the United States each year. However, many people who want to donate bone marrow or organs fear losing their jobs from being out of work.

The Organ Donation – Prohibition on Discrimination by Insurer and Unpaid Leave Act allows employees up to 60 days of leave to donate organs and 30 days of leave to donate bone marrow.

An employee must have worked for the company for at least one year and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the past year. Employers with 14 employees or less are not subject to the law.

Minimum Wage in Maryland Increases

As of January 2020, the minimum wage in Maryland is $11 per hour (subject to local laws that might set higher minimum wage standards). The minimum wage increases each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2025.

Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the bill, but the legislature overrode his veto on March 28, 2019. The Governor cited concerns for the state’s economy as his reason for vetoing the bill.

Hate Crime Legislation

New legislation was passed expanding the actions that might be considered a hate crime in Maryland. The new law prohibits a person from placing or inscribing certain items or symbols on someone’s property with the intent to intimidate or threaten a person or group of people. Items include swastikas and nooses.

People guilty of placing these items or symbols on an owner’s property without the owner’s permission can face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to three years in prison.

Many other laws were enacted for 2020 or are pending the Governor’s signature. Some of these laws may impact areas of law relevant to our clients’ cases. We carefully monitor changes in the law that could affect the outcome of our clients’ cases.