During the 2017 Legislative Session that ended earlier this month, the Maryland General Assembly passed more than 900 bills. That’s a lot of lawmaking! Since the press tends to focus on a few of the biggest laws, you may have missed some of the more “interesting” ones. Here are a few of the laws you can expect to see enacted this coming October.
Consumer Protection – Recovering of Bedding
In the market for used bedding? You are in luck. Apparently, there has been a rash of unethical bedding salespeople pushing used bedding as if it were now. No longer! Not in my state! Now, used bedding must be clearly marked as such. If you sell used bedding to an unsuspecting consumer, you’re looking at a misdemeanor and a maximum fine of $500.
Criminal Law – Animal Cruelty
Maryland law does already prohibit animal cruelty. And part of that law says you must provide your pet with air, space, shelter, and protection from the elements. Some creative attorney must have defended their client by arguing that the law doesn’t define how much air, space, shelter or protection is mandated. Sounds like something an attorney would do! So the new law clarifies the old law to insert the word “proper.” The new law says you can be guilty of animal cruelty if you don’t “provide PROPER air, PROPER space, PROPER shelter or PROPER protection from the elements” to a pet within your custody. If you fail to do these things, you are guilty of animal abuse and neglect. It seems like common sense, but it is better to clarify it. Now we are waiting on the case where the attorney argues about what the meaning of the word “proper” is.
Child Support – Noncompliance With Court Order
Nobody supports those who don’t pay their child support. However, it is pretty hard to pay your child support if you don’t have a job. The law now allows the Child Support Enforcement Administration to notify MVA that you are non-compliant if you are out compliance with a child support order for 60 days. That time has now been extended to 120 days before the MVA can be notified to take action. This sounds like it is going easy on child support scofflaws, but it is really trying to help children by allowing the person obligated to pay support to keep their job so they can pay their support.
Motor Vehicle Administration – Driving Instructors – Criminal History
Previously, the MVA had the right to do a criminal history background check, but they did not receive updates. So, as long as you got your job as a driving instructor, you could then go murder someone and MVA may never find out. This new bill states that the MVA is permitted to receive any updated or additional records of a crime, which may lead the MVA to revoke an instructor’s license if found guilty.
Public Health – Required Temperatures for Sale of Crab Meat
Previously, it was against the law to keep for sale unfrozen crab meat warmer than 45 degrees; frozen crab meat warmer than 0 degrees Fahrenheit; or pasteurized crab meat at warmer than 38 degrees Fahrenheit. This bill has repealed these restrictions, so now you’re free to sell room temperature crab meat to your hearts’ content!
So Maryland will protect you from used bedding, but buyer beware on warm crab meat!
Insurance Premiums – Payment by Credit Card – Reimbursement
Some insurance companies were worried that if you paid your premium with a credit card, they were prohibited from charging you the extra expenses they incur (Visa and Mastercard charge a fee of 2% or more on each transaction). This new law allows them to charge you actual expenses they incur, as long as they disclose them.
Workers’ Compensation – Permanent Total Disability – Survival of Claim
If someone receiving worker’s compensation dies from a cause unrelated to their claim, the right to compensation that is payable to the claimant survives up to the amount of $65,000 (previously $45,000; increased due to cost of living adjustments). Otherwise, the death of the claimant meant the insurance company reaped a windfall. We can all agree that is not right. The right to compensation now survives to living dependents. In the absence of dependents, compensation survives to a spouse. If there are no surviving dependents or spouse, on the date of death, the covered employee did not have a legal obligation to support a surviving spouse, the right to compensation survives only to the surviving minor children of the covered employee.
Disclosure of Medical Records – Guardian Ad Litem – Victims of Crime
A guardian ad litem, a person appointed by the court to protect the interests of a minor, disabled, or elderly individual who is considered a victim, does not require authorization to receive medical records and documentation as disclosed by a health care provider. Previously, this one class of persons (who obviously need to know medical history) were prohibited from requesting medical records under the current law.
Baltimore City and Charles, Prince George’s, and Harford Counties – Recall of Former Judge for Temporary Assignment
Enacted on April 4th, 2017, this bill is considered an emergency measure in the interest of public health and safety. It grants the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals the right to assign any former judge to temporarily sit as a judge in Baltimore, Charles, PG or Hartford counties, so long as the former judge has served for 2 or more years, has been approved, and agrees to the job. A former judge who was removed o