ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Dozens of new laws are taking effect in Maryland this week.
The General Assembly approved more than 600 bills in this year's legislative session, which was shortened by the coronavirus. While many of the new laws approved this year take effect in October, The Baltimore Sun reports that some go into effect on Wednesday. Here's a look at some of them:
POLICE BODY CAMERAS
Lawmakers created a Law Enforcement Body Camera Task Force, which must issue a report by Dec. 1 on the best ways for storing audio and video recordings from police body cameras.
Current Maryland law requires the state’s Office of Legislative Audits to perform an audit on the “effectiveness and efficiency of the financial management practices” of the department in 2020 and then at least once every six years after that. The law sponsored by Baltimore Sen. Cory McCray clarifies that multiple audits can be performed. It also specifies that the employees or authorized representatives of OLA must have access to and may inspect the records, including those that are confidential by law.
SPECIAL EDUCATION OMBUDSMAN
A new law will create an ombudsman in the Office of the Attorney General for parents who are frustrated with the quality of special education services for their children. The ombudsman’s charge is to “serve as a resource to provide information and support to parents, students and educators regarding special education rights and services.”
After two deadly floods in Old Ellicott City and repeated nuisance flooding in downtown Annapolis, two new laws will help pay for flood prevention. One law makes it easier to use money for the Bay Restoration Fund — better known as the “flush fee” — on projects that will help combat flooding and other climate problems. Another law allows city and county governments to create resilience authorities, which could be used to borrow money and manage projects that would improve infrastructure.
Members of the Maryland National Guard currently can be reimbursed up to 50% of the cost of college tuition. A law requested by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan allows for 100% percent reimbursement for college classes. The Maryland National Guard’s policy requires members to pay for the tuition upfront, then apply for reimbursement after they pass the course. The Guard reimburses tuition based on how much money is in the state budget for the program, prioritizing lower-ranked soldiers and airmen working on their first degree. Trade school courses also can be reimbursed.