A new set of laws have taken into effect on July 1st, among them, changes to the minimum wage and gas tax.
The Associated Press described a number of key changes, having taken effect July 1st.
The Maryland state minimum wage was increased from $8.25 to $8.75 an hour, part of the planned incremental increase in the minimum wage to reach $10.10 by 2018, in accordance with the 2014 Maryland General Assembly’s decision. In April of this year, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, D-District 14, cited last year’s death of Freddie Gray while in the custody of Baltimore police, and the ensuing backlash, as a crime problem with ties to economic disparity. The minimum wage shift, which went into effect this weekend will be part of further increases to the minimum wage in the coming years.
The motor vehicle gas tax also increased to 33.5 cents, over its previous rate at 23.5 cents. The gas tax is part of another set of incremental increases, approved in 2013. It will be the first gas tax increase in 20 years.
Several more laws came in with the latest cycle that took effect last weekend. In infrastructure and planning, a new scoring system has been introduced to provide guidance for prioritizing transportation infrastructure. A state retirement plan has also been provided for, setting up individual retirement accounts for private-sector employees whose employers don’t already offer a retirement program, allowing these employees accounts to contribute into.
In education, bi-literacy in high school graduates will now be recognized by a new honoring seal on the high school diplomas of all students with literacy in two or more languages. A new pilot program was also approved and enacted, which would aim to increase induction, training and retention for first year school teachers.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has been provided the funding for Program Open Space. The program will see $60 million in funding over the next two years.
The ban on powdered alcohol was extended a further two years from the date it took effect, until June 30th of 2018. The extension on the ban stems from health concerns for the under researched medical dangers of powdered alcohol and the potential to use powdered alcohol to increase the potency of already alcoholic drinks.
The new funding for the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home was also established.