Interim Update: June 2023

Governor Wes Moore had until May 30th to take action on bills passed during the 2023 Legislative Session. He had the option to sign bills, veto bills, or allow bills to go into law without his signature.  We have highlighted several bills that are effective as of June 1st of this year. 

The Good…

SB 493/HB 675 – Commission to Study Trauma Center Funding in Maryland
This was a priority for our members, especially those from the Eastern Shore as Tidal Health in Salisbury is the only Trauma Center on the Eastern Shore and provides critical services for the region, including visitors to popular tourist locations and Ocean City.  This Commission will work to ensure that Trauma Centers are adequately funded and staffed. 

SB 534 – Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2023
SB 534 extends requirements passed during the COVID-19 pandemic  for health insurance providers to cover telehealth like they do in-person visits. This gives more Marylanders, especially those who have transportation challenges or live a great distance from their provider, the ability to still consult and receive care from their doctors virtually. Originally established as part of emergency legislation during the pandemic, this ended up being a big win for patients and providers and Senate Republicans worked across the aisle to keep this coverage going through 2025. 

SB 102/HB 465 Natural Resources – Recreational Crabbing – Gear Individuals Under the Age of 16 years
Some good news for young crabbers! Now, youth 16 and under can use recreational crabbing gear to crab in and around the Chesapeake Bay without having a recreational crabbing license. 

SB 911 Natural Resources – Fishing Licenses & Stamps – Exemptions
SB 911 exempts government entities and non profit organizations from having to obtain a recreational fishing license and/or stamp if they are providing outdoor recreational opportunities for current and former members of the US Armed Services, those with special needs, those with limited access to fishing opportunities and others. 

The Bad…

SB 224/HB 230 MDE – Zero Emissions Medium & Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Regulations (Clean Trucks Act of 2023)
This is a bad bill from the 2023 Session and requires Maryland to adopt California standards on the sale of medium and heavy duty vehicles.  The Clean Trucks Act requires the Maryland Department of the Environment to adopt regulations that include the California Advance Clean Truck regulations which currently require 40-75% of new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales to be electric vehicles by 2035. The phase-in will begin in the model year 2027, the calendar year 2026. The California Air Resource Board is set to vote in April on regulations that will ban the sale of gas and diesel-powered medium- and heavy-duty trucks by 2040. Under the Clean Trucks Act, Maryland will also adopt this full ban should California make that change. Senate Republicans opposed this bill because this will place too much pressure on Maryland’s electric grid and electric medium and heavy duty trucks are considerably more expensive, and those increased costs will negatively impact Maryland’s businesses and will be passed down to taxpayers. 

SB 781/HB793 Offshore Wind Energy – State Goals & Procurement (Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources Act
SB 781, is an aggressive off-shore wind law that proponents argued will make Maryland better-positioned to win federal off-shore wind grants. SB 781 requires that Maryland increase its offshore wind energy generation from 2 gigawatts to 8.5 gigawatts by 2031. SB 781 also facilitates the construction of a shared transmission infrastructure with neighboring states to reduce the cost and environmental impact of future offshore wind projects. It also would strengthen labor standards for offshore wind manufacturing, installation and maintenance to ensure most of the work goes to unionized workers. An off-shore wind manufacturing facility is planned for Tradepoint Atlantic in Sparrows Point. 

Republicans opposed SB 781 because the projects are extremely expensive and burdensome with unknown economic benefits. Environmental impacts were also an area of concern when looking at the risks of constructing large wind turbines in the ocean and running transmission lines onshore. Additionally, the regulatory and approval process is not very friendly to local communities who will experience the largest effects of an expansion of off-shore wind. 
Republicans also had severe concerns about the impact on rate payers who are currently underwriting a portion of existing offshore wind development through their monthly utility bills and that burden could significantly increase as this expansion moves forward.