Maryland law changes coming in 2024: minimum wage, spam calls and health coverage

A new minimum wage, fewer spam phone calls and health insurance updates are coming to Maryland as the new year begins.

More than a dozen laws will go into effect Monday, setting the stage for several major initiatives lawmakers approved in the spring.

Here’s what you need to know.

Minimum wage workers will get a raise

Starting Monday, the state’s minimum wage rises to $15 an hour across the board — an increase of $13.25 for companies with at least 15 workers and $12.80 for smaller companies.

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The increase is the result of legislation sponsored by Gov. Wes Moore earlier this year. Maryland already had a schedule to gradually increase the pay to $15 an hour over the next few years, and Moore’s bill accelerated that pay.

Tipped workers, such as servers and bartenders, will not have a required increase in their base salary. Tipped workers are only allowed to be paid $3.63 an hour (half the federal minimum wage of $7.25), although their total pay and tips must exceed $15 an hour. If they don’t, the employer must make up the difference.

Workers under 18 can be paid 85 percent of the state minimum wage, which would be $12.75.

People incarcerated in prisons are paid varying amounts, with an average monthly compensation of about $183, according to Maryland Correctional Enterprises, the part of the state prison system that employs incarcerated people to make products and provide services.

Efforts to raise Maryland Correctional Enterprises’ minimum wage to $15 were unsuccessful.

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Financial assistance for energy bills will be extended

The Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs helps low-income households cover their energy costs. Starting in 2024, the office will enroll every resident who qualifies for certain welfare programs into a fuel and utility assistance program. The law also extends electric bill assistance to Maryland residents with an annual income of 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Baltimore tax sale deadlines cover all counties

Maryland’s law would bring the state’s 23 counties in line with Baltimore City’s rules governing owner-occupied residential properties.

The new law states that nine months must pass before the holder of a certificate of sale can file a complaint for foreclosure. Previously, the law set this period at six months. The law also increases the time from four months to seven months before a certificate of sale holder can send the required foreclosure notice and be reimbursed for the costs associated with filing the appeal.

The bill comes into force on 1 January 2024 and applies only to certificates of sale issued on or after 1 January 2024.

Health insurers will cover lung and breast cancer screenings, biomarker testing

Maryland law already requires health insurance carriers to provide patients with more than 50 health insurance benefits. The state is poised in 2024 to update some coverage requirements for medical tests.

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The new legislation would prohibit health insurers from collecting a copayment, coinsurance or deductible requirement for diagnostic or additional breast exams with a few exceptions for patients covered by a high-deductible health plan.

Maryland’s Medicare program and certain insurers must provide coverage for “biomarker testing” for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment, appropriate management, or ongoing monitoring of a disease or condition that is supported by medical and scientific evidence.

In addition, insurers must provide coverage for certain lung cancer diagnostic imaging and limit the copayment, coinsurance, or deductible that organizations can charge for lung cancer screening and diagnosis.

Spam telemarketing calls will decrease

The state is cracking down on spam callers in 2024 by imposing more restrictions on phone solicitations made to residents. Violation of the law will be considered an unfair, abusive or deceptive trade practice, subject to enforcement and penalties under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.

Telephone solicitation involving an automated dialing system or recorded message is prohibited without prior express written consent.

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The law also limits certain methods, times, and identifying information that a lawyer can use.

Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this story.

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