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Session highlights

April 10, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Some statewide and Washington County highlights of the 2007 Maryland General Assembly session (pending Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature on bills):

· Hospital appeal bill died: An attempt to help smooth the path for a new Washington County Hospital was killed in a House committee because it didn't have the support of a majority of the county delegation.

· "Clean Cars" passed: Imposes stricter emissions standards by model year 2011.n Death penalty repeal failed: Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, cast a deciding vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee against a repeal.

· Statewide smoking ban passed: Prohibits smoking in bars and restaurants; clubs and fraternal organizations are not exempt.

· Living wage approved: Under state contracts, employees are guaranteed $11.50 an hour in a handful of urban counties and $8.50 elsewhere in 2008.

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· Primary date changed: Maryland presidential election moved from the first Tuesday in March (March 4, 2008) to the second Tuesday in February (Feb. 12, 2008).

· Election process altered: Maryland will join a group of states that will give its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the overall popular vote, regardless of who wins the state's popular vote. The agreement won't take effect until other states join, representing a majority of the country's electoral votes.

· Tuition frozen: University System of Maryland and Morgan State University tuition can't increase next year.

· Excise tax passed: Washington County can lift the ceiling on its excise tax; a task force will recommend, for one year, a fee structure based on square footage, replacing the current flat fee.

· School construction funded: The state budget to which the House of Delegates and Senate agreed includes $400 million for school construction, a record high; Washington County's share is $9 million.

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