Legislation Worth Keeping An Eye On In Annapolis

BERLIN – A number of bills have been introduced in the General Assembly in its first month that could have an impact on Worcester County. Here’s a look at some interesting pieces of legislation being considered in Annapolis.

– House Bill (HB) 171: Introduced by Delegates Norm Conway and Jim Mathias, it allows for the County Commissioners to impose a fine of $50 for each day the liquor license renewal application is late. Worcester County licensees must turn in all applications and fees by the end of March.

– HB  170: Also sponsored by Conway and Mathias, it calls for liquor licensees to be served with a formal letter when a complaint has been made at their establishments.

 – HB 178: It authorizes municipal corporations to impose a tax rate not to exceed 2 percent on charges for hotel and motel rooms.

– HB 177: It allows law enforcement agencies to “mail a citation to the owner of a motor vehicle that is recorded by a speed monitoring system to be in violation of specific laws” involving speeding.

– HB 182: Introduced to combat repeat domestic violence, it provides that a protective order become permanent if a man or woman is convicted and sentenced to jail for the particular abuse.

– HB 187: On the heels of last year’s special session, which expanded the sales tax, it alters the definition of “taxable service” to exclude computer services. The legislature last year voted late in the session to include computer services, such as web design.

– HB 189: It reduces from 10 percent to 5 percent the homestead tax credit percentage fro the state property tax beginning after June 2009.

– HB 191: It requires the Motor Vehicle Administration to test “an applicant for specified driver’s licenses who is under the age of 21 for the presence of alcohol or an unlawful controlled dangerous substance.” A positive test would result in a six-month suspension of the license.

– HB 291: This would bring back a sales tax-free period in the summer for back-to-school shopping. Bill designates Aug. 10-22 and would only apply to specific clothing or footwear not exceeding $100.

– HB 300: Each school system must establish a criminal law course at the middle school level, according to the legislation.

– HB 306: It waives the handgun permit fee for a sitting judge on the Court of Appeals, the Court of Special Appeals, a county circuit court or district court.

– HB 315: It officially designates the Smith Island cake as the State dessert.

– Senate Bill (SB) 208: It mandates specific buildings constructed solely with state funds to be high-performance buildings.

– SB 56: It requires the sex offender registry include detailed information on the individual including all present or past aliases, nicknames, chat room identities, computer log-in names and the like.

– SB 169: It’s called Maryland’s Marriage Protection Act and adds a new section to the Maryland Constitution establishing “that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in the state.” It makes invalid a union or relationship of individuals of the same sex.

– SB 216: It tackles a major issue facing the nation as well as Maryland and seeks to protect the consumer by giving further advance notice of a company’s intent to foreclose on property. It prohibits “an action to foreclose a mortgage or deed of trust on residential property from being filed until 90 days after default and 45 days after a notice of intent to foreclose is sent.” Additionally, it requires one publication of notice of a foreclosure sale.

– SB 254: It alters the portion of a prison sentence that must be served before individuals convicted of certain specified crimes can be paroled or receive a special administrative review.

– SB 259: It increases the amount of money “a local government can spend on development projects after it has attained its acquisition goals under Program Open Space.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.