As Maryland legislators wind down the 2023 Maryland General Assembly, they rush to pass legislation that will largely affect seniors. (Courtesy Photo)

By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,

As the 2023 Maryland General Assembly winds down, here are the top legislation Maryland seniors should know about. 

SB351/HB760: Maryland Legal Services Corporation – Affordable Life, Wills, and Estate Planning for Seniors Grant Program

SB 351 establishes the Affordable Life, Wills, and Estate Planning for Seniors Program in the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, a non-profit organization for legal services. It would give seniors with “moderate financial means [more] access to affordable civil law-related services.”

“Currently, there are community folks in the middle who do not qualify for free legal services and people who are not wealthy enough or do not have the experience to make end-of-life and estate planning,” said Sen. Mary Washington (D-Md-43), sponsor of SB 351. 

Individuals are eligible if they are at least 65 years old and their family income does not exceed 75 percent of the median family income for the state, being $91,431, according to the U.S. Census.

This bill has passed the Senate and has been referred to the Judiciary Committee in the House.

SB382/HB239: Accessory Dwelling Unit Policy Task Force

SB 382 would establish the Accessory Dwelling Unit Policy Task Force to study how Maryland can promote accessory dwelling units located on single-family zoned land. The task force would survey a sampling of codes, laws, ordinances and policies relating to accessory dwelling units.

Accessory dwelling units are independent residential properties located on the same lot as a detached single-family home, according to the American Planning Association. These additional units could be used to house an extended family member, care taker or be used to garner needed revenue by renting out the space.

Sen. Mary Washington (D-Md-43) is the sponsor of SB 382.

“This bill was made to look at what we can do statewide to make [accessory dwelling units] more accessible,” said Washington. “It is for seniors that need additional income and want to be able to rent their place out to another senior who may not have family and need a safe place to live – many jurisdictions don’t allow that. That’s what the task force would be able to do.”

The task force would report its activities to the General Assembly by Nov. 1 and its findings by June 1, 2024.

This legislation passed the Senate and will be heard in the House on March 28 in the Environment and Transportation committee.

Tashi McQueen is Report For America Corps Member.

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