In the most significant amendment in Maryland laws on abortion over the past three decades, lawmakers in the state adopted a bill on Tuesday that will dramatically increase the number of people who can perform abortions and ban most insurance companies from charging patients out-of-pocket expenses for the procedure.
The legislation on access to abortion, which Democrats passed in a vote based on party lines and is among several controversial bills General Assembly leaders suspect might cause a veto from Governor. Larry Hogan (R).
The Democratic-controlled legislature is rushing its priorities on abortion, climate change, paid family leave and gun control, among others, to Hogan’s desk by Friday so they would have time to override him before they are required to adjourn on April 11.
With an election scheduled for November, this is the Democrat’s only chance to challenge the Governor’s decisions.
The debate over abortion dragged on for many hours of distressing testimony by lawmakers during the last few weeks, with Democrats looking to ease old restrictions on politics surrounding abortion and Republicans, on the other hand, who are eager to amend some of our nation’s most expansive abortion laws.
Democrats won with the veto-proofing majority.
“It ensures that every person can access healthcare in the same way,” said Del. Ariana B. Kelly (D-Montgomery), who is the author of the bill. “We treat abortions the same way we would treat different health services, and it’s the same guidelines to abortion, just as we do for other medical care.”
State legislators are considering legislation to confront the uncertainties surrounding abortions across the United States if the Supreme Court decides to reverse the historic Roe V. Wade case.
Maryland is currently allowing only physicians to perform abortions. A limitation that advocates for abortions said that left two-thirds of the counties in Maryland with no single abortion service. The legislation would allow midwives, physician assistants or nurse practitioners, like other medical practitioners, to carry out abortions as the other 14 states do.
It also sets aside $3.5 million to educate practitioners who may have been to medical schools in other states that do not provide this type of training. Additionally, it will force insurance companies to cover the procedure with no co-pays or deductibles, thus reducing the cost for women.
Republicans tried to put limitations on the facilities that offer abortions. They also demanded mental health services be provided to women seeking abortions and then used the $3.5 million to boost neonatal intensive health programs.
Senate Minority Whip Justin D. Ready (R-Carroll) described the bill as”a “radical and expansive” law in the state that has similar expansive abortion law. “You do not need this bill to remain a long way from the norm regarding the law in Maryland regarding the subject of abortion.” the senator said.
Gov. Larry Hogan and Md. legislators reached an agreement to lower seniors’ tax burdensHogan was a candidate for the presidency. Hogan stated that he opposed abortion. However, access to abortion was an issue of laws in Maryland. Hogan hasn’t made clear what he will make of the bill.
Alongside the abortion access law, lawmakers from the state-approved several legislation on Wednesday, as the deadline for submitting legislation before the Governor’s desk is approaching.
The House passed a bill prohibiting the possession and purchase of guns that aren’t traceable, commonly referred to as ghost firearms. The measure is a significant overhaul of youth justice. It is an essential piece of legislation to accelerate the state’s goals to tackle climate change, and it aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent over the next 9 years. The Senate passed measures to abolish the tax on sales of essential items such as toothbrushes and diapers as part of a larger five-year $1.86 billion tax cut package. They also speedily met an order from a judge to draw boundaries for congressional districts following the circuit court judge’s ruling that the original map violated the Constitution.
Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), who favors legislation that would ban the use of untraceable firearms, said that guns are now “the gun of preference” for criminals.
“They are readily available for purchase on the Internet without having to undergo a background check, which makes them readily available to children and violent criminals, domestic abusers and those who aren’t eligible to own a gun,” he said in an announcement, noting that the law “closes an insularity” which has made the work of police officers more complex and has created a “terrible security risk for the public.”
The District of Columbia and the nine other states have all taken actions to limit them, such as making it mandatory for those who build ghost guns to have serial numbers on them and requiring sellers to get licenses and conduct background checks, or prohibiting them from the sale of non-traceable firearms.
Maryland’s bill will ban the transfer, sale and possession of a ghost firearm. The Secretary of the State Police must keep an inventory of ghost guns that are registered with an identification number. Gun owners will be necessary to wait until March 2023 to have an imprint of their serial number from an authorized firearm dealer in the federal government.
House Economic Matters Committee House Economic Matters Committee moved swiftly to introduce a Senate draft of the bill, which will allow the possibility of up to twelve weeks of paid leave for recovering from childbirth or an illness or to provide care for someone you love. The committee changed its Senate bill to make it similar to the House bill that establishes the commission to look into paid family leave. The bill includes more than $22 million in the fiscal year 2023 to pay consultants and allow the Maryland Department of Labor to manage the commission and plan for the implementation of a program until 2024. The Senate bill establishes a framework to implement the project, including an actuarial study expected to be completed by October. In the proposed program, Maryland workers who worked at least 680 hours over the last year will be eligible to begin receiving benefits from January 2025, ranging from $50 to $1,000 per week.
The committee passed the measure on party lines. Republicans opposed the measure, arguing that it is a burden on workers or employers to contribute to similar unemployment insurance that could be burdensome for businesses and families.
“This can be a way to tax when the prices of food are increasing, and clothing prices are rising,” said Del. Richard K. Impallaria (R-Harford). “If I owned a company that employed 15 or 16 people in this state, I’d transfer it across the state line.”
Senate Presidency Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) expressed his confidence that both chambers can work together to resolve the differences between Senate and House variants of bills for paid leave.
“People shouldn’t have to choose between their health or their family member and job,” he said.