There are a few new laws around the D.C. area that will go into effect on New Year’s Day.
There are no new laws in the District itself that will affect residents directly, but there are quite a few in neighboring states.
Laws that will go into effect on the first day of 2024 in Maryland and Virginia are outlined below.
The most important new laws going into effect for Virginians on Jan. 1 focus on health care, specifically making health care information and some treatments more accessible for residents.
Insurance covering hearing aids for minors
Health insurance plans offered in the Commonwealth in the new year will provide coverage for hearing-impaired people under 18.
If an otolaryngologist recommends hearing aids for a child, the new law states non-Medicare insurance will have to cover up to $1,500 for each hearing aid and related costs every two years.
State joins interstate counseling organization
Virginia joined the Counseling Compact in 2023, which connects licensed counselors across the United States.
Licensed professional counselors in all member states can work with residents in any of the states, so Virginia counselors and Virginia residents can access an even larger telehealth network when the new counseling law goes into effect on Jan. 1.
Insurers must notify patients when they no longer support a health care provider
Insurance providers must give enrolled residents plenty of notice if they are planning to take their health care provider, such as a hospital or doctor, off their health benefit plan after Jan. 1.
A new law outlines how insurers will have to give a patient 90 days of notice if they plan to stop supporting one of their primary health care providers. Patients will also have the right to keep receiving services from that provider after they are dropped by their insurance plan for another 90 days.
Exceptions will also be made for patients who are pregnant or have life-threatening conditions.
The county’s Park Authority will be upping the fees for recreational pools, park and water mine rentals, golf courses and commercial photography licenses in parks. Prices for most public recreation should only go up by a dollar or two, except for golf club membership fees, which will go up 4%.
For precise fee increases, check out the county’s website and the fee schedule, which will display the updated prices on Jan. 1.
Prince William County
Commercial waste haulers will start being charged $40 a ton at the Prince William County Landfill. Residents will not be charged a tipping fee, but the county warns that this might impact the prices charged by private haulers.
Minimum wage increase
Maryland’s minimum wage rate will increase to $15 an hour for all employers in the state, regardless of how many people they employ.
The new law raises the minimum wage two years ahead of schedule and will increase wages for approximately 163,000 employees, according to Gov. Moore’s administration.
Many businesses in Montgomery County have already been paying employees at least $15 an hour. A county law that went into effect earlier this year required companies with 51 or more employees to pay a minimum wage of $16.70 per hour.
Mid-sized companies, defined as those that employ between 11 and 50 people, had their the minimum wages raised from $14 to $15 per hour.
Medicaid covers transgender patients’ gender-affirming treatments
Medicaid, or the Maryland Medical Assistance Program, will be required to provide medically necessary gender-affirming treatments on Jan. 1, 2023.
The Trans Health Equity Act expands the number of procedures prescribed by a licensed health care provider that are covered by Medicaid in the state.
“In our state, no one should ever have to justify their humanity,” Gov. Moore said when he signed the act into law. “In our state, no one should have to justify their own humanness, and that’s what the Trans Health Equity Act is all about, and it’s the legislation that we need,”
Plastic bag bans across the state
Some counties and towns are enacting local plastic bag bans after a statewide bag ban failed to pass the state Senate in 2020 after making it through the house of delegates.
Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, plus the city of Frederick, are each banning businesses from handing out plastic bags starting Jan. 1, 2024. Customers will have to bring their own bags to stores to shop for items like food, clothes and hardware, with some businesses offering paper bags as an alternative.
Most municipalities are easing residents into the ban, with three month grace periods after Jan. 1 and free reusable bags being handed out at community centers. Check out Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County and Frederick’s news releases on the new laws for more information.
Baltimore County also passed the Bring Your Own Bag Act earlier this year, which put a plastic bag ban and paper bag charge in effect at businesses in November 2023.
Montgomery County grocery shoppers currently pay a five-cent tax on each plastic bag used at grocery, convenience and drugstores.
The Associated Press and WTOP’s Ivy Lyons and Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.