Maryland lawmakers passed bills on abortion, taxes, ‘ghost guns’ and the environment. Here’s a look at what’s becoming law.

The 2022 Maryland General Assembly session was marked by a gradual return to a pre-pandemic normalcy, and by the shadow of elections shaken up in a battle over how to draw congressional district lines.

That meant fewer struggles this year to broker debates over complex legislative issues via Zoom, and plenty of incentive to pass major initiatives that will motivate voters on both ends of the political spectrum.


Here are some noteworthy measures lawmakers added to the books:

  • Marijuana: A referendum for voters to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana use is headed to the November ballot. A companion bill set to become law would legalize possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, remove criminal penalties on possessing up to 2.5 ounces and create a system to expunge past criminal records for those convicted of possessing marijuana.
  • Abortion: Maryland is set to allow medical professionals beyond only physicians to perform abortions, and to spend $3.5 million per year for medical training on providing abortions. The state will also require most health insurance plans to cover abortions at no charge to patients.
  • Climate change: A goal to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 60% below 2006 levels by 2031 is being enshrined in state law, replacing an earlier goal and accelerating the state’s transition away from fossil fuels. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan was widely expected to veto the bill, which will require owners of large buildings to reduce their carbon footprints, but allowed it to become law without his signature.
  • Juvenile justice: Reforms to the youth criminal justice system will establish new sentencing rules, including banning incarceration for minor offenses; set a minimum age for criminal charges and time limits for probation terms; and require police to inform a parent or guardian before interrogating a child.
  • Paid leave: Lawmakers created a statewide paid medical and family leave insurance program expected to cover nearly every worker in the state, providing 12 weeks — or, in some limited cases, as much as 24 weeks — of parental or family leave starting in 2025. Benefits will be funded by mandatory contributions from workers and most employers starting in 2023.
  • Tax relief: Presented with a more than $7 billion budget surplus, Hogan and the top Democrats in the General Assembly agreed on a package of nearly $2 billion in tax cuts, giving those 65 and older a new $1,000 nonrefundable state income tax credit and exempting many child care and medical products from state sales tax. Another tax break will benefit businesses that hire and retain workers from underserved communities.
  • Ghost guns: Lawmakers passed legislation to clamp down on sales of so-called ghost guns that lack serial numbers and are difficult for law enforcement to track. It will expand the legal definition of a firearm, ban the sale or possession of firearms made after 1968 that lack a serial number, and require anyone with an existing firearm without a serial number to register it.
  • Cybersecurity: To better prepare state and local governments against cyberattacks, lawmakers passed a package of bills that included creating a centralized Maryland network and helping local governments afford cyberattack preparedness.
  • Rental assistance: To go along with aid for renters in federal pandemic relief packages, legislation passed by the General Assembly would require that judges put evictions on hold for up to 35 days if a renter can show they made a “good faith effort” to apply for assistance.

  • Prevailing wage: The state is set to significantly expand which government contractors are required to pay their workers the prevailing wage, including by applying prevailing wage requirements to smaller maintenance, repair and service contracts for local governments and school systems.
  • Collective bargaining: Various groups of public-sector workers, including public defenders and employees at certain public universities or community colleges, will gain the right to collectively bargain over pay and working conditions.
  • Cat declawing: Maryland is now the second state in the country to ban a practice that involves amputating bone from cats’ toes to stop them from scratching furniture or people.
  • Jury duty compensation: Lawmakers doubled the minimum amount people called for jury duty are paid by the state to $30 per day. Some counties pay jurors an additional amount.
  • Environmental enforcement: Responding to a dramatic decline in enforcement activity by state environmental regulators, a new law will limit when the state can administratively extend water pollution permits and require more on-site inspections.
  • Baltimore stadiums: The legislature authorized $1.2 billion to pay for stadium improvements designed to keep the Orioles and Ravens in their Baltimore homes for the long term. A companion bill would fund $200 million in improvements to minor league ballparks in Aberdeen, Bowie, Frederick, Hagerstown, Salisbury and Waldorf.
  • State parks: Responding to crowding that only worsened when the pandemic hit, lawmakers approved a long-term spending plan to address a backlog of deferred maintenance projects at state parks and to hire 100 more rangers.
  • Prenatal care for undocumented mothers: Maryland will begin providing prenatal and infant care, through its Medicaid program, to undocumented immigrants.
  • Marriage age: Legislators raised the state’s minimum age for marriage with parental consent from 15 to 17 years old and abolished a long-standing provision that let underage girls get married without parental permission if they were pregnant. The new law allows 17-year-olds to marry without parental consent only if they complete a series of hurdles to show they are doing so thoughtfully and safely.
  • Patuxent River Commission: Lawmakers reversed a decision by Hogan’s administration not to reappoint the Patuxent Riverkeeper to a state body tasked with promoting the river’s ecological health.
  • PFAS: Maryland will ban manufacturing and use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS or “forever chemicals,” in firefighting foams, paper products for food packaging and in rugs and carpets. The chemicals are linked to adverse health outcomes.
  • 9-8-8 trust fund: Under federal law, 988 is set to become the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in July. Legislation passed in Maryland adopts that hotline here and creates a trust fund to support the mental and behavioral health crisis call centers that will answer the calls.