Each year, G.S. Proctor & Associates compiles for our clients a detailed report analyzing key developments in the legislative process affecting the issues and industries that matter most in the state of Maryland.
In the coming days, we’ll share the details of the report in a series of posts focused on the various areas of interest. For those interested in seeing the complete report now, you can download a PDF here.
To address the dangers drivers face when in distress on the side of the road, the Maryland General Assembly approved SB0147/HB0105, which expands the “move over” requirement under the Maryland Vehicle Law to apply to any vehicle on a highway that is displaying hazard warning lights, road flares, or other caution signals, including traffic cones, caution signs, or non vehicular warning lights. The bill requires a driver approaching a vehicle that is stopped, standing, or parked on a highway and displaying an applicable signal to make a lane change or, if the driver is unable to lawfully make a lane change, slow to a reasonable and prudent speed. A violation is a misdemeanor subject to a maximum fine of $500.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, payment of toll fees became a widely-covered issue resulting in several pieces of legislation, including HB0335. This bill, which passed unanimously, requires the terms and conditions for E-ZPass accounts to allow a person to dispute any charge or fee for the use of a Maryland toll facility within at least one year after the charge or fee is posted to the person’s E-ZPass account. The bill takes effect June 1, 2022, and terminates June 30, 2023.
HB0038 reestablishes Chapter 547 of 2018, which terminated May 31, 2021, authorizing the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) to recall a delinquent account from the Central Collection Unit (CCU) if specified conditions are met and prohibiting the CCU from collecting any debt that is recalled by MDTA. The account may be recalled if the account exceeds $300 in unpaid video tolls and civil penalties; the video tolls in question were assessed within a 30-day period; and mitigating factors exist with respect to the tolls and penalties, as determined by MDTA. MDTA may only currently recall an account from CCU if there is an error with the toll violation that is MDTA’s fault. The bill takes effect June 1, 2022.
Maryland lawmakers addressed updated child car seat safety recommendations through the passage of SB0176, which requires a person transporting a child younger than age two in a motor vehicle to secure the child in a rear-facing child safety seat that complies with applicable federal regulations until the child reaches the weight or height limit specified by the manufacturer of the child safety seat. A first violation is a misdemeanor and carries a written warning. A second or subsequent violation includes a $50 fine. Violations are not considered moving violations and points are not assessed. Current Maryland law does not address rear-facing child seats.
Maryland lawmakers unanimously approved HB1187/SB0726, which increases the share of funds from the Gasoline and Motor Vehicle Revenue Account (GMVRA) that the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) must annually provide to local governments through capital transportation grants from fiscal years 2024 through 2027. During the five fiscal years from 2024 through 2027, the bill directs an additional $8.4 million in FY 2024, $101.4 million in FY 2025, $113.3 million in FY 2026, and $125.6 million in FY 2027 to local governments. The bill takes effect July 1, 2022.
The Maryland General Assembly gave final approval to SB0612, which increases penalties and assesses points for violations related to participation in racing or speed contests. The bill also creates a statewide prohibition on exhibition driving on any highway or private property that is used for driving by the general public. The legislation authorizes a police officer to order the towing and impounding of a vehicle that is driven either in a race or speed contest or an exhibition driving event. The bill is effective June 1, 2022.
March gas prices increased dramatically beyond $4 due to the rising inflation rate and the start of aggression by Russia against Ukraine. This led the Maryland General Assembly to enact temporary gas tax relief in the form of SB1010/CH0002. For the 30-day period beginning on the effective date of the Act, motor fuel taxes that would otherwise be imposed were suspended. The gas tax suspension expires on April 16, 2022. Attempts to extend the date beyond April 16 failed.