A new minimum wage, fewer telephone spam calls and updates to health insurance coverage are coming to Maryland with the start of the new year.
More than a dozen laws will go into effect Monday, ushering in several high-profile initiatives that lawmakers approved in the spring.
Here’s what you need to know.
Minimum-wage workers will get a raise
Starting Monday, the state minimum wage goes up to $15 per hour across the board — an increase from $13.25 at companies with at least 15 workers and $12.80 at smaller companies.
The increase is the result of legislation sponsored by Gov. Wes Moore earlier this year. Maryland already had been on a schedule to gradually increase the wage to $15 per hour in the next couple years, and Moore’s bill accelerated that wage.
Tipped workers, such as servers and bartenders, will not have a required increase to their base wage. Tipped workers are allowed to be paid as little as $3.63 per hour (half of the federal minimum wage of $7.25), though their total pay and tips must exceed $15 per hour. If they don’t, the employer has to make up the difference.
Workers younger than 18 can be paid 85% of the state minimum wage, which would be $12.75.
People incarcerated in prisons are paid varying amounts, with an average monthly compensation of about $183, according to Maryland Correctional Enterprises, the arm of the state prison system that employs incarcerated people to make products and provide services.
Efforts to raise the Maryland Correctional Enterprises minimum wage to $15 have not been successful.
Financial assistance for energy bills will expand
Maryland’s Office of Home Energy Programs helps low-income households cover their energy costs. Starting in 2024, the office will enroll any resident who meets the eligibility for certain social support programs in a fuel and utility assistance program. The law also expands electric bill assistance to Marylanders with an annual income of 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
Baltimore’s tax sale timelines extend to all counties
Maryland law will bring the state’s 23 counties in line with Baltimore City’s rules governing owner-occupied residential properties.
The new law states nine months must pass before a holder of a certificate of sale can file a foreclosure complaint. Previously the law set that timeline at six months. The law also increases the amount of time from four months to seven months before the holder of a certificate of sale can send a required foreclosure notice and be reimbursed for expenses relating to filing the complaint.
The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2024, and only applies to certificates of sale issued on or after Jan. 1, 2024.
Health insurance will cover lung and breast cancer examinations, biomarker testing
Maryland law already requires health insurance carriers to provide patients with more than 50 health insurance benefits. The state is poised in 2024 to update some coverage requirements for medical testing.
New legislation will bar health insurers from collecting a copayment, coinsurance or deductible requirement for diagnostic or supplemental breast exams with a few exceptions for patients covered under a high-deductible health plan.
The Maryland Medical Assistance Program and certain insurers must provide coverage for “biomarker testing” for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment, appropriate management or ongoing monitoring of a disease or condition that is supported by medical and scientific evidence.
And insurers must also provide coverage for certain lung cancer diagnostic imaging and limiting the copayment, coinsurance, or deductible that the entities can require for lung cancer screening and diagnosis.
Spam telemarketing calls will decrease
The state is cracking down on spam callers in 2024, placing more restrictions on telephone solicitations made to residents. A violation of the law will be considered an unfair, abusive or deceptive trade practice that is subject to enforcement and penalties under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.
Telephone solicitations involving an automated dialing system or a recorded message are prohibited without prior express written consent.
The law also restricts certain methods, times and identifying information that a solicitor may use.
Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this story.