Members of the Maryland General Assembly are gearing up for the 2023 legislative session, which will begin Wednesday. During their 90 days of marathon lawmaking, state delegates and senators will file, debate and discuss bills covering hundreds of topics.
Here’s a brief look at some of the major policy areas that are expected to be discussed between Jan. 11 and April 10:
In November, Marylanders voted to legalize recreational cannabis for adults over 21. This session, lawmakers are tasked with passing legislation to regulate licensing and taxation to set up the industry before it becomes legal July 1 in Maryland.
Though access to abortion isn’t in jeopardy in the state, the General Assembly plans to take up a bill to allow Maryland voters to enshrine the right to reproductive health care — including contraception, prenatal services and abortion procedures — in the state constitution. If the bill passes, voters would see the question on the ballot during the 2024 presidential election.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that found Maryland’s concealed carry gun permit policy is unconstitutional. Both Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and state Senate President Bill Ferguson have indicated that the General Assembly will take up legislation to adjust the state’s policy to fit within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.
Sex abuse lawsuits
A bill that would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue abusers may have a path forward in the wake of a report from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office detailing past abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic priests. Under current law, a survivor can sue within three years of an abuser’s criminal conviction or up until the victim’s 38th birthday. Legislation that would create a two-year “look-back” period for older survivors has passed the House previously but never received a vote on the Senate floor.
Paid family leave
In 2022, the legislature passed a bill to implement up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for most Marylanders. Lawmakers need to settle how to split contributions between employers and workers to a fund that will pay for the program and decide when workers must start to pay into the fund before the policy goes into effect in 2025.