Laws going into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, in the D.C. area affect how much people are paid, whether plastic bags are handed out at stores and whether insurance covers infertility treatments.
Here’s a look at some of the changes in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Expanded infertility health insurance coverage: A D.C. law approved in fall 2023 aims to help people who are trying to get pregnant. As of Jan. 1, people who use DC Healthcare Alliance and Medicaid can have their infertility diagnosis covered, along with three cycles of ovulation-enhancing drugs.
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In 2025, people who get insurance through D.C. employers or DC Health Link will become eligible, too. Their benefits will include diagnosis, three rounds of IVF, and if needed, an embryo transfer to a surrogate.
D.C. Councilmember Christina Henderson cosponsored the Expanding Access to Fertility Treatment Amendment Act.
“Infertility is a medical issue, and therefore your medical insurance should cover the ability for you to seek treatment,” she said.
Minimum wage increase: Maryland becomes the sixth state in the country to enact a $15 minimum wage. The minimum wage for all workers, regardless of company size, is now $15 per hour as of Jan. 1. It was as low as $12.80 for some workers, if their companies had fewer than 15 workers.
Montgomery County workers will be less affected because the county was ahead of the state in raising wages, as News4 reported.
County Executive Marc Elrich said he would like to see the wage go up even more, into the low $20s, and said he plans to make that proposal in 2024.
“What I really think that people realize is that if you really had a proper minimum wage, the amount of money we spend on social programs would significantly drop,” he said.
County Councilmember Will Jawando, who fought to increase wages, said, “It’s a lifeline for over 150,000 families in the state. Raising the minimum wage is about dignity, fairness and building an economy that works for everyone.”
Plastic bags: Plastic bag laws are changing in some jurisdictions.
- Prince George’s County: The county “prohibits all retail establishments from providing plastic carryout bags to shoppers and, with certain exceptions, shall charge at least 10 cents for each paper carryout or reusable bag provided to a customer.”
- City of Frederick: City officials say that “retail establishments will no longer be permitted to provide single use plastic bags at the point of sale. (Some exclusions do apply) Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable carryout bags or packaging with them when shopping. Businesses may also offer reusable carryout bags to customers.”
- Anne Arundel County: County officials say retailers “will no longer be able to provide plastic bags to customers for their purchases at checkout. Retailers can provide paper bags or reusable bags to customers at checkout for purchase. This law only applies to bags provided at checkout, and does not apply in the City of Annapolis.”
Pay raises for teachers: Public school teachers and employees in Standards of Quality (SOQ)-funded positions will get a 2% raise as part of the 2023 amendments to Virginia's Biennium Budget.
Tax exemptions for military retirees: Age requirements for military retirees to receive tax-exempt status are now repealed. All military retirees now are exempt from state taxes, regardless of age.
Counselor licensing: Virginia has signed the Counseling Compact, which allows eligible professional counselors who are licensed by one Compact member state to practice in other member states.
Hearing aid coverage for minors: Virginia will require health insurance companies to provide hearing aid coverage and related services for babies, kids and teens up to age 18, as recommended by a doctor. This includes a hearing aid for each impaired ear at a cost of up to $1,500 every 24 months.
Health care out-of-network notifications: Health insurance carriers now must notify policyholders if their current healthcare provider, or one they've seen in the past six months, will no longer be in network. The new law, HB2354, also provides for continuity of care, including the right to receive pregnancy care or treatment of life-threatening conditions for certain periods after the provider is removed from the network.
Medical marijuana program oversight: The Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) will take over regulation of the state’s medical cannabis program from the Board of Pharmacy.
“The CCA is committed to the well-being of medical cannabis patients, and our goal is to ensure they experience minimal disruption during this transition,” Jeremy Preiss, CCA’s acting head and chief officer, said in a release.
Arlington impervious surfaces tax: An Arlington County law aims to fund a stormwater management program. Homeowners now will be charged a stormwater utility fee as a part of their real estate taxes. The fee is replacing the sanitary district tax that has existed since 2008.
The county says the new fee is based on the amount of hard surfaces, or impervious areas, on a property, which better correlates with stormwater runoff. It will be calculated as $0.017 per $100 of assessed value. Homeowners will see the new fee on their real estate bills starting in May. Estimate your fee here.