- Associated Press
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland is strengthening its hate crime law so prosecutors don’t have to prove hate was the only motivating factor in committing a crime, as new laws take effect in the state this week.

Previously, the law applied to someone who committed crimes against a person or group because of race, color, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender, disability or national origin, but the change expands it to apply if crimes are motivated “either in whole or in substantial part” due to those factors.

The law is named after 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, a Black student at Bowie State University who was fatally stabbed in 2017 while he was waiting at a bus stop on the University of Maryland, College Park campus. A judge ruled prosecutors did not meet their legal burden of showing racial hatred motivated Sean Urbanski to stab Collins. Urbanski, who is white, was found guilty of first-degree murder last year.

Urbanski liked a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation” and saved at least six photographs of racist memes on his phone, according to prosecutors.

Other changes in the law related to hate crimes also are taking effect Thursday.

The state is banning the placement of items or symbols, such as an actual or depicted noose or swastika, without permission on property to intimidate specific groups of people.

Maryland also will require the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to conduct training to recognize, report and respond to hate crimes for entrance-level police training and at least every three years for in-service police training.

Here is a look at other laws taking effect in Maryland on Thursday:


Maryland is banning discrimination based on a person’s natural hair or hairstyles by expanding the definition of race to include hair texture and hairstyles.


Employers won’t be able to ask or require job applicants to provide a wage history. Employers also will be required to provide a job applicant with the wage range for the position the applicant applies for upon request. Maryland also changed the law to clarify that employers can’t take action against an employee who asks about their own wages, as well as those of other employees.


Maryland law will prohibit discriminatory practices relating to how tenants pay rent, based on a person’s source of income such as government housing vouchers.


A law banning the use of foam in food and beverage packaging takes effect.


Maryland’s public colleges will be required to submit an outbreak response plan to the state health department each year, starting next year. The law is in response to a 2018 outbreak of adenovirus at the University of Maryland, College Park, that killed one student and sickened more than 40.

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