The new year will bring lower costs for birth control and stronger smoke alarm requirements to Maryland residents.
Under two bills that take effect on Jan. 1, insurers will have new rules for coverage of birth control and homeowners will have new requirements for smoke detectors.
The "Contraceptive Equity Act," which was signed into law in 2016, prohibits insurers from charging co-payments for contraceptive drugs, procedures and devices approved by the federal government.
It also requires insurers to cover the cost of over-the-counter contraceptive medications, such as the morning after pill, and bars them from charging a co-payment for vasectomies.
Advocates have hailed the legislation as one of the most comprehensive measures in the country addressing access to contraceptives.
Del. Ariana B. Kelly (D-Montgomery), the lead bill sponsor, said the bill was designed to provide more options for couples who need affordable birth control.
The delay in full enactment was largely to provide more time for insurers to deal with the "first of its kind" provision involving over-the counter contraceptives.
The smoke-alarm law, which was signed by then-Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in 2013, requires homeowners to replace 9-volt battery operated smoke detectors with newer models that lasts a decade.
The legislation updated the state's nearly 40-year-old law on fire protection. It included a provision calling on the new requirement to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
The 2013 law calls for 10-year-old smoke detectors to be replaced. The legislation does not affect homes with hard-wired smoke alarms.