ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Many new laws passed in the 2021 Maryland legislative session that cover several topics took effect on Friday, but here are a few laws that the citizens of Southern Maryland should watch out for the most.

SB494- Juveniles Convicted as Adults

Multiple senators sponsored this law, and it allows courts to sentence a minor convicted as an adult to less prison time than a convicted adult would receive. It also prohibited courts from imposing a life sentence without the possibility of parole or release. Minors are guaranteed the right to solicit the court to reduce the sentence.

SB0178- Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021: Search Warrants and Inspection of Records

Although this law was not introduced by a local representative, it will affect Southern Maryland’s law enforcement. This law allows certain people to review disciplinary records of law enforcement agents of misconduct, internal affairs investigations, hearings, and disciplinary decisions for review under the Maryland Public Information Act. It also requires “no-knock” search warrants to be approved in writing by a police supervisor. Plus, they can only execute it between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. unless there are critical circumstances.

SB600 – Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021: Surplus Military Equipment and Investigation of Deaths Caused by Police Officers

A local representative did not introduce this law, but it still highly affects Southern Maryland’s law enforcement. This law requires law enforcement to report any “potential police-involved death” of a civilian to a new independent investigative unit in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

HB391 – Solid Waste Management: Prohibition on Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere

As crazy as it may sound, this new law will ban mass balloon releases in Maryland for certain groups. The following groups are prohibited from releasing balloons: a person 13 or older, a corporation, a partnership, an association, a nonprofit agency, the state, or any unit of a political subdivision. This law requires the local government to work with enforcement authorities to report the violation.

HB 298 – Consideration of Climate and Labor for Power Plant Research

This bill requires the Power Plant Research Program (PPRP) to include an evaluation of the impact of electric power plants on climate change as part of its ongoing research, as specified. Separately, the Public Service Commission (PSC), in supervising and regulating public service companies, must consider the maintenance of fair and stable labor standards for affected workers and additional specified climate effects and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Relatedly, PSC may not take final action on a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) without considering the effect of climate change on the project and, for a generating station, the impact of the project on GHG emissions and its consistency with the State’s GHG emissions reduction goals.

HB 540 – Interstate Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact

Introduced by State Delegate Matt Morgan[R-St. Mary’s], this bill enters Maryland into the Interstate Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact for occupational therapists. The bill establishes rules for occupational therapists to obtain and maintain a compact privilege to practice occupational therapy in a member state; the composition, powers, and responsibilities of the Occupational Therapy Compact Commission; and the requirements related to the oversight, dispute resolution, and enforcement of the compact. The bill is contingent on the enactment of similar legislation in nine other states.

“When you look at healthcare through the lens of supply and demand, solutions become much clearer,” Morgan explained in a social media post. “One solution to increase the number of qualified health professionals is to reach across state lines by creating multiple state compacts. This increases the number of healthcare providers, and can help fill and satisfy demand; lower cost, and increase options for consumers.”

These are just a few of the new laws that will take effect on Friday. Tell us what you think about these new laws in the comments below. For more information on the laws and the other laws, click here.