Maryland

New Laws Take Effect in DC, Maryland and Virginia July 1

Virginia will implement a long list of reforms pushed through by Democrats, including gun control, lifting abortion restrictions and decriminalizing marijuana

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New laws taking effect in D.C., Maryland and Virginia on July 1 could change how much you get paid, how you drive, how employers and police act and more.

Here's what you need to know.

Washington, D.C.

Paid Family Leave 

D.C. workers can take paid family leave as of July 1. The policy passed by the D.C. Council in December 2016 provides up to eight weeks with a new child, six weeks to care for a family member with a serious health condition and two weeks to care for your own serious health condition. 

Employers began paying a 0.62% tax starting in July 2019 to pay for the benefit. 

Eligible workers include those who spend at least 50% of their time working in D.C., including through teleworking, in the previous year. Leave can be taken for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child. Health conditions include physical and mental illnesses that require in-patient care or continuing treatment. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $1,000. 

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Minimum Wage 

The minimum wage will increase from $14 per hour to $15 per hour for all workers who do not receive tips. Workers who do receive tips will see a boost from $4.45 per hour to $5 per hour. 

D.C. voters approved the increases in June 2018 by passing Initiative 77. The minimum wage at the time was $12.50. 

Virginia

Gun Control

Virginia will implement a series of new gun control laws on July 1. The new regulations mandate universal background checks and limit handgun purchases to one a month.

A measure often called a red flag law will also go into effect, which gives authorities a path to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

The home state of the National Rifle Association just got a lot tougher on gun laws. A package of new safety laws are in effect in Virginia. Northern Virginia Bureau Reporter Drew Wilder explains the changes.

Gun owners must report missing or stolen firearms to police within 48 hours or face a civil penalty.

The penalties for allowing children access to firearms were raised to a class 1 misdemeanor.

Local areas also will have the power to regulate guns in public buildings, recreation centers and during events.

Voting Changes

With the November 2020 elections approaching, Virginia has made it easier to vote.

The state repealed a requirement that voters show a photo ID at the polls. Voters will still need a proof of address, such as an ID, a piece of official mail or voter registration documents. An expired driver's license is also acceptable.

Voters who wish to cast an absentee ballot no longer have to provide the state with a reason, and can start voting early 45 days before an election.

Election Day is also now a state holiday. It replaces the Lee-Jackson holiday, which honored Confederate generals. 

Confederate Statues

Local governments can make decisions on whether to move, remove or add context to statues and monuments in their communities.

Decriminalization of Marijuana

Simple marijuana possession will no longer carry criminal penalties. Possessing up to 1 ounce of marijuana becomes punishable by a $25 fine. Anyone caught with marijuana won't be arrested and the infraction won't go on a criminal record.

LGBTQ Rights

Sexual and gender identity are added to protected classes, meaning Virginians can’t be discriminated against in housing, employment and public accommodations.

Conversion therapy for minors is also banned.

Abortion

Women seeking an abortion in Virginia will no longer have to wait 24 hours, get an ultrasound or receive counseling materials before undergoing the procedure.

Insulin Price Cap

Virginians with insurance won't have to pay more than $50 out-of-pocket for insulin.

Tuition for Undocumented Students

Undocumented students who meet residency standards can get in-state tuition at institutions of higher education in Virginia. The student must have attended high school for at least two years in the Commonwealth and graduated or passed an equivalency exam on or after July 1, 2008. 

Food Stamps

People with certain drug felonies are no longer ineligible for food stamps.

Gas Tax Increase

Virginia's statewide gas tax will go up from less than 17 cents per gallon to 21.2 cents per gallon.

Personal Hygiene Products Tax Decrease

Disposable diapers, incontinence pads, bed sheets and feminine hygiene products, including sanitary pads and tampons, will be taxed at a lower rate, 2.5%.

Clean Economy Act

An overhaul of energy policy paves the way for a significant expansion of offshore wind and other renewables as it mandates a transition to zero carbon emissions by 2045 for Virginia's largest electric utility. Regulators have said the legislation will have significant impacts on monthly electric bills, which supporters of the measure dispute.

Stopping for Pedestrians

Drivers must stop, not just yield, for pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks until the pedestrian has cleared the road. The Virginia Department of Public Transportation says this applies to lanes in both directions if it's a two-way road.

Driver’s License Suspensions

Starting last year, Virginia stopped suspending driver's licenses as a punishment for residents who had unpaid court fees and fines. Anyone who already had their license suspended for that reason will automatically have their driving privileges restored, with no reinstatement fee, on July 1, 2020.

School Discipline

Principals are no longer required to report misdemeanors committed at school to police.

School Lockdown Drills

Parents will get a 24-hour notice of lockdown drills.

Casino Gambling

Five cities, Bristol, Danville, Richmond, Norfolk and Portsmouth, can hold local referendums to decide whether voters want to approve casinos in their areas.

Maryland

Minimum Wage in Montgomery County 

People making minimum wage in Montgomery County will get a raise of as much as $1 per hour. Employers with 10 employees or less must boost wages from $12.50 an hour to $13 an hour. Mid-sized employers with 11 to 50 employees must boost wages from $12.50 to $13.25, and employers with 51 employees or more must give workers boosts from $13 to $14 per hour. 

The County Council approved the increase in November 2017. Wages will climb again, through mid-2021. 

Police Body Cameras 

For the next year, a state task force will study economical ways to store audio and video recordings from police body cameras. The group will make recommendations. 

Tuition for National Guard Soldiers

Maryland will begin to offer up to 100% tuition reimbursement for National Guard members who are on active duty.

Special Education Ombudsman

A new law will create a position of special education ombudsman for parents who are frustrated with the quality of special education services for their children.

Flood Prevention

Two new laws will help pay for flood prevention after deadly floods in Ellicott City and repeated floods in downtown Annapolis, the AP reports. Two laws go into effect. One will make it easier to spend Bay Restoration Fund money on anti-flooding and climate issues. Another allows cities and counties to create authorities to borrow money and manage infrastructure projects.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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