March 25, 2023 7:18 am

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

The Maryland Home of Delegates voted Saturday to approve the Trans Overall health Equity Act — a bill that just a year ago disappeared from the chamber’s agenda ahead of a floor vote.

Delegates debated the legislation for about 25 minutes early Saturday afternoon just before passing the measure 93-37.

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

Kaiser mentioned she believed it was crucial to serve as a voice for the trans neighborhood in the chamber.

“What is becoming mentioned nationally about trans folks are the very same lies that had been mentioned about gays and lesbians 20 years ago,” mentioned Kaiser, who was a single of the 1st openly gay members of the Common Assembly. “And that is aspect of the purpose I really feel the passion and the connection to our trans brothers and sisters.”

She commended Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery) for defending the bill in the chamber for the duration of floor debates earlier in the week.

Republicans in the chamber introduced a couple of amendments to try to curtail the legislation, but these had been voted down.

Even though the bill generated important debate, it alterations state policy only modestly.

The bill would call for Maryland Medicaid, starting on Jan. 1, 2024, to give coverage for extra gender-affirming treatment options, which are at present disallowed in the state’s strategy but normally covered by private insurance coverage. The expanded treatment options consist of hormone therapy, hair alteration, voice therapy, physical alterations to the physique, and fertility preservation.

The state’s Medicaid system currently covers treatment options such as mental overall health solutions, hormone replacement therapy and gender reassignment surgery.

The bill does not lift state policies on present needs to qualify for gender reassignment surgery: Individuals need to be 18 or older, have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, undergo at least a single year of continuous hormonal therapy when advised by a mental overall health skilled, and obtain two referrals from a mental overall health skilled just before the surgery.

Through the 2022 legislative session, related legislation passed the Senate chamber and out of Home committee, but never ever came up for a vote on the floor and the committee’s vote was removed from the bill web page.

Comparable legislation is anticipated to come up for debate in the Senate on Monday.

Price tag gouging

Lawmakers are seeking to get difficult on price tag gouging following troubles that arose at the get started of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Home gave preliminary approval to Home Bill 775 which would limit non-seasonal price tag increases on necessary goods and solutions to 15% for the duration of a state of emergency. The bill would also give the governor the energy for the duration of a state of emergency to designate necessary goods and solutions.

The Workplace of the Lawyer Common reported that it received hundreds of complaints of price tag gouging for the duration of the pandemic on products such as meals and cleaning supplies.

The Senate gave final approval to the cross-filed Senate bill on Friday.

Kid on the web protections

The Home gave preliminary approval to a bill that would call for social media corporations and other apps to assess how youngsters may possibly use or be impacted by their on the web activities.

Home Bill 901, modeled on related laws in Europe, would call for social media corporations operating in Maryland to execute assessments on how youngsters are probably to use their merchandise. The corporations would also be essential to assess how they use the private info of youngsters and how it may possibly potentially expose them to dangerous on the web content material.

The corporations would also be essential to contemplate how their merchandise impact children’s privacy, overall health, security and mental overall health.

The Senate version of the bill awaits action by the Finance Committee.

The Spirit of Maryland

Marylanders who are fans of state symbols might quickly have an chance to toast the addition of a new a single.

The Home of Delegates unanimously authorized Home Bill 178 which would make Maryland Rye Whiskey the official state spirit.

Prior to Prohibition, Maryland was the third-biggest distilling state in the nation behind only Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery), sponsor of the bill, told the Home Overall health and Government Operations Committee he envisions an financial enhance to the state from the adoption of the state symbol related to how Kentucky markets Kentucky Bourbon and the Bourbon trail.

“I have located Maryland Rye in six various states not Maryland,” he told the committee. “Now, I treat Maryland Rye not developed in Maryland the very same way I treat Maryland-style crab cakes on a restaurant menu outdoors of Maryland but it is a true point and it is some thing that is aspect of our history and our heritage and some thing we will need to wrap ourselves about for the added benefits of the economy and tourism and enterprise.”

There are roughly two dozen official state symbols such as the state crustacean (Blue Crab, of course), cat (Calico), dinosaur (astrodon johnstoni) and cake (Smith Island).

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

Not every single proposed symbol tends to make it.

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

There had been also a handful of unsuccessful attempts to have the soft crab named the official state sandwich.

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