• Fri. Mar 24th, 2023

Busy Saturday: Home passes Trans Well being Fairness Act, advances price-gouging and information protections, backs a brand new state spirit


Mar 18, 2023

The Home of Delegates chamber. Photograph by Danielle E. Gaines.

The Maryland Home of Delegates voted Saturday to approve the Trans Well being Fairness Act — a invoice that only a 12 months in the past disappeared from the chamber’s agenda forward of a ground vote.

Delegates debated the laws for about 25 minutes early Saturday afternoon earlier than passing the measure 93-37.

Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery), the lead sponsor of the invoice, was joined by 59 cosponsors this session.

Kaiser stated she thought it was essential to function a voice for the trans neighborhood within the chamber.

“What’s being stated nationally about trans persons are the identical lies that have been stated about gays and lesbians 20 years in the past,” stated Kaiser, who was one of many first overtly homosexual members of the Common Meeting. “And that’s a part of the rationale I really feel the eagerness and the connection to our trans brothers and sisters.”

She counseled Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery) for defending the invoice within the chamber throughout ground debates earlier within the week.

Republicans within the chamber launched a few amendments to try to curtail the laws, however these have been voted down.

Whereas the invoice generated vital debate, it adjustments state coverage solely modestly.

The invoice would require Maryland Medicaid, starting on Jan. 1, 2024, to offer protection for added gender-affirming therapies, that are at the moment disallowed within the state’s plan however generally coated by non-public insurance coverage. The expanded therapies embody hormone remedy, hair alteration, voice remedy, bodily alterations to the physique, and fertility preservation.

The state’s Medicaid program already covers therapies together with psychological well being providers, hormone substitute remedy and gender reassignment surgical procedure.

The invoice doesn’t carry state insurance policies on present necessities to qualify for gender reassignment surgical procedure: Sufferers should be 18 or older, have a prognosis of gender dysphoria, endure a minimum of one 12 months of steady hormonal remedy when advisable by a psychological well being skilled, and obtain two referrals from a psychological well being skilled earlier than the surgical procedure.

Throughout the 2022 legislative session, related laws handed the Senate chamber and out of Home committee, however by no means got here up for a vote on the ground and the committee’s vote was faraway from the invoice web page.

Comparable laws is predicted to return up for debate within the Senate on Monday.

Worth gouging

Lawmakers need to get powerful on worth gouging following issues that arose at first of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Home gave preliminary approval to Home Invoice 775 which might restrict non-seasonal worth will increase on important items and providers to fifteen% throughout a state of emergency. The invoice would additionally give the governor the facility throughout a state of emergency to designate important items and providers.

The Workplace of the Lawyer Common reported that it obtained lots of of complaints of worth gouging throughout the pandemic on objects together with meals and cleansing provides.

The Senate gave ultimate approval to the cross-filed Senate invoice on Friday.

Little one on-line protections

The Home gave preliminary approval to a invoice that may require social media firms and different apps to evaluate how kids would possibly use or be affected by their on-line actions.

Home Invoice 901, modeled on related legal guidelines in Europe, would require social media firms working in Maryland to carry out assessments on how kids are possible to make use of their merchandise. The businesses would even be required to evaluate how they use the non-public data of youngsters and the way it would possibly doubtlessly expose them to dangerous on-line content material.

The businesses would even be required to contemplate how their merchandise have an effect on kids’s privateness, well being, security and psychological well being.

The Senate model of the invoice awaits motion by the Finance Committee.

The Spirit of Maryland

Marylanders who’re followers of state symbols could quickly have a chance to toast the addition of a brand new one.

The Home of Delegates unanimously accepted Home Invoice 178 which might make Maryland Rye Whiskey the official state spirit.

Previous to Prohibition, Maryland was the third-largest distilling state within the nation behind solely Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery), sponsor of the invoice, informed the Home Well being and Authorities Operations Committee he envisions an financial enhance to the state from the adoption of the state image much like how Kentucky markets Kentucky Bourbon and the Bourbon path.

“I’ve discovered Maryland Rye in six totally different states not Maryland,” he informed the committee. “Now, I deal with Maryland Rye not produced in Maryland the identical approach I deal with Maryland-style crab truffles on a restaurant menu outdoors of Maryland however it’s a actual factor and it’s one thing that’s a part of our historical past and our heritage and one thing we have to wrap ourselves round for the advantages of the economic system and tourism and enterprise.”

There are roughly two dozen official state symbols together with the state crustacean (Blue Crab, in fact), cat (Calico), dinosaur (astrodon johnstoni) and cake (Smith Island).

There’s even an official sport (jousting) and staff sport (lacrosse).

Not each proposed image makes it.

In 2017, David Shore, 10 of Bethesda, made a formidable push to have chromite named the state mineral (he even had a pro-bono lobbyist and testimony from the state geologist).

There have been additionally a number of unsuccessful makes an attempt to have the comfortable crab named the official state sandwich.

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