Maryland General Assembly ends with legislators working to ensure passage of bills

April 06, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU |

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly ends Monday, and local legislators were working last week to ensure final passage of some measures they had introduced.

Bills introduced by local lawmakers that were on their way to becoming law included legislation that would give those who formerly were part of the Correctional Officers’ Retirement System credit for accumulated sick leave at retirement, and another that would make it a crime to interfere with mandated reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect.

A bill seeking more protection for domestic-violence victims by allowing them to get protective orders instead of peace orders had stalled in the House of Delegates after clearing the Senate.

A bond bill introduced by Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, requesting $85,000 for repairs and renovations of the Antietam Fire Co.’s fire station in Hagerstown has been fully funded.

Another bond bill introduced by state Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, requesting $175,000 for renovations and repairs to Lock 44, Lockhouse 44, and the Western Maryland Railroad Lift Bridge at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Williamsport was partially funded for $100,000.

A bond bill introduced by Donoghue for $300,000 for the demolition of the former Municipal Electric Light Plant in Hagerstown did not receive any money, but the delegate said he was exploring other sources of funding from different state agencies.

Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington and chairman of the Washington County delegation, said he was pleased with the likely passage of the bill dealing with accumulated sick leave for correctional officers.

“I am also pleased that the bill that corrects a problem for correctional officers losing their leave time if they are promoted that Senator (Christopher B.) Shank and I worked together on passed,” he said in an email.

Serafini said he was disappointed, but not surprised, that bills he introduced to have a flat income tax and another bill he introduced to reduce the Corporate Income Tax did not move forward.

A bill introduced by Shank, R-Washington, and Del. Michael J. Hough, R-Frederick/Washington, that is on its way to becoming law would make it a crime to interfere with a mandated report of child abuse or neglect.

Another Shank-sponsored bill that has cleared both legislative chambers prevents someone who intentionally kills or conspires to kill from benefiting from the death or inheriting property of the deceased person.

But another bill Shank sponsored to expand the scope of a protective order to help some domestic violence victims had not yet been approved by the House after it cleared the Senate.

“Much like previous years, we’re going to have to keep trying,” he said.

A bill introduced by Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, and state Sen. Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, that has passed requires that campaigning be allowed on the premises of a public building used as a polling place up to a specified boundary. It also specifies that campaign signs be allowed on the premises of a polling place from 7 p.m. on the day before early voting starts to 8 a.m. the day after early voting ends, among other rules.

“The bill ensures consistency for every election place in the state,” Parrott said.

Another measure introduced by Parrott prohibiting abortions at 20 weeks gestation or later, except under some circumstances such as medical emergencies, did not make it out of committee.

But Parrott said he was pleased that there had been discussions about the issue.

Young said he was hopeful about a bill he introduced that would change the state procurement law to give preference to American-manufactured good in state contracting.

“There is no faster way to create jobs than if we bought American products,” Young said. “The purpose of the bill is to encourage the state, the state itself, to buy American-made products.”

The bill is awaiting final passage.

A bill introduced by Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, that has cleared both legislative chambers would allow businesses to rent motorcycles more easily.

According to the Department of Legislative Services, the bill includes motorcycle rentals under the definition of “short-term vehicle rentals” in the state.

Hough said he would try again during the next session of the Maryland General Assembly to pass a bill that would change standards for involuntary admissions for those with mental-health disorders to some mental-health facilities or a veterans’ hospital.

Hough’s bill did not receive approval from a House committee, although a cross-filed version by state Sen. Robert J. Garagiola, D-Montgomery, passed the Senate before stalling in the House.

“A big reform bill like that may take more than a year or two,” Hough said. “It is an important bill, and I’m definitely going to bring it back next year.”

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