What Will the Maryland General Assembly Focus on in the 2023 Session?
The Maryland General Assembly’s 2023 session began on Wednesday, January 11, and will continue until April 10. This allows the state’s 188 legislators just 90 days in total to address new issues concerning Marylanders, make adjustments to older policies, and plan ahead for 2024 and beyond. There will no doubt be a flurry of activity throughout the coming months as legislators from both sides of the aisle try to push forward their preferred policies, from minor changes to massive decisions that could change thousands or even millions of lives.
That said, there are a few hot-button issues in particular that are likely to get a long look from Assemblymembers while they are in session. Here is a brief preview of what the Maryland General Assembly will likely focus on during the 2023 session and what impacts their decisions could have on residents of the Old Line State.
Continuance of Previous General Assembly Decisions
One of the first topics on the docket for Maryland legislators in 2023 will be following through on the Marijuana Legalization Agreement. This is the ballot measure approved by Maryland voters during the November 2022 election, which directs the General Assembly to formally legalize the possession, purchase, sale, and use of marijuana statewide. Before the ballot measure goes into effect on July 1, 2023, state legislators will need to decide how to handle licensing for the production and sale of marijuana. They will also need to determine what taxes sellers and consumers will be expected to pay and how revenue from marijuana sales will be incorporated into the state’s budgets. Handling more sensitive matters like the prosecution of people who drive while high and reparations to communities historically harmed by marijuana arrests and prosecution will also have to be discussed.
Legislators will also likely make adjustments to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. This was meant to improve public schools when it was first approved in 2020 but did not account for the novel coronavirus pandemic. Likewise, the state’s recent report on decades of child sexual abuse perpetuated inside the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Baltimore may spur further expansion of the rights of child sex abuse survivors to file civil litigation against their abusers.
Responding to State and National Developments
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down its previous decision on Roe v. Wade sent shockwaves through the nation last year. General Assemblymembers in Maryland will almost certainly take action during the 2023 session to enforce reproductive rights at the state level. Democratic Assemblymembers have already indicated they plan to put an amendment to the State Constitution affirming the right to abortion on the ballot in 2024. They may also put forward legislation that would prohibit healthcare providers in Maryland from cooperating with investigations started in other states into people seeking abortion care here.
Gun violence and violent crime as a whole remain high priorities for lawmakers as well, especially given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2022 declaring New York’s “may issue” approach to gun permits as unconstitutional. Finally, some legislators have stated that they intend to pursue reforms targeting exclusive listing contracts for prospective homebuyers, the tax sale process, and other issues affecting the availability and affordability of housing in Maryland.