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Landmark legislation takes effect

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(The Center Square) – Maryland saw some landmark legislation come into effect over the weekend in accordance with the start of the fiscal year, including the legalization of recreational cannabis and a gas tax of 47 cents per gallon.

Cannabis

Maryland became the 21st state to legalize cannabis for recreational use, the referendum receiving support from more than 65% of voters in November. Smoking marijuana in public still isn’t allowed, and those who want to grow the plant are limited to two “out of the public view.”

Gas tax

Maryland’s gas tax rate has increased by nearly 30% in the past two years for unleaded and diesel. The weekend 5-cent jump to 47 cents per gallon (47.8 for diesel) makes Maryland’s gas tax the fourth highest in the country, after California, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Minimum wage

The minimum wage in Maryland went from $12.50 to $13.25 per hour in January; per The Fair Wage Act of 2023 that went into effect July 1, it will jump another $1.75 in January 2024, bringing it to $15 per hour.

Clean energy

The Clean Energy and Transportation Act authorizes the Maryland Energy Administration to administer a grant program for medium to heavy-duty zero-emission trucks. “Grants must cover up to 20% of the cost to purchase [eligible vehicles], electric vehicle charging stations, or MHD non-road equipment,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure projects in certain technology sectors will now be eligible for funding through the Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program created by the Innovation Economy Infrastructure Act of 2023.

Teachers and students

The Maryland Educator Shortage Reduction Act of 2023 attempts to attract and retain skilled teachers and mental health professionals for the state’s schools and child care facilities. Among other strategies for achieving this goal is a state-funded $20,000 stipend program for qualifying student teachers who commit to teaching in the state for at least two years.

Banking

Newly enacted legislation establishes a Maryland Community Investment Venture Fund to assist banks in low-to-moderate-income areas in banking services at lower costs, with lower interest rates and fewer fees.

Veterans

Veterans, their spouses or anyone receiving military pensions now receive greater tax exemptions on that income. For people under the age of 55, the exemption has been increased from $5,000 to $12,500, and for people over the age of 55, from $15,000 to $20,000.

Film production

Film production companies can now look for more tax credits when filming in Maryland. More direct production costs can qualify for tax credits, and the state can issue up to $15 million in aggregate tax credit certificates, up from $12 million.

National Guard health care

Members of the Maryland National Guard who get their health and dental insurance through the Department of Defense’s Tricare Reserve Select and Tricare Dental Program are now eligible for reimbursements that cover up to the full individual monthly premiums for those benefits.

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