OC Chamber Tracking Bills Of Local Importance

– With the deadline for introducing new bills rapidly approaching, state
lawmakers this week continued to flood the hoppers on both sides of the aisle
as several bills of local import were introduced.

Today, Feb. 1, is the Senate introduction date and the
last day to introduce new legislation on the House side arrives next Friday.
Bills introduced after those dates are sent to the rules committee of each
chamber and then must be referred to a standing committee for consideration.

Several bills are being tracked closely by the Ocean City
Chamber of Commerce and its lobbyist, Dennis Rasmussen. The following is a
quick look at some of the bills introduced this week that will likely have some
bearing on Worcester County and Ocean
City if passed:

House Bill (HB) 17: Task Force to Study the Boating
Industry in Maryland: This bill would alter the date by which the task force is
required to report its findings and recommendations to the governor and the
General Assembly from June 30, 2008 to December 31, 2008, and extends the life
of the task force from December 2008 to June 2009.

HB 65- Sales Tax for Clothing: This bill, if passed, would
exempt the sale of clothing from the recently increased state sales tax. It had
a hearing scheduled for this week but no action has been taken on it.

HB 94: Task Force to Study Charitable and Commercial
Gaming in Maryland:
This bill would create a task force to examine commercial gaming activities in
charitable and fraternal organizations such as American Legions and Elks

Lodges, for example. It is of particular interest locally because Worcester is the one county on the Eastern

Shore that currently does not allow slots at fraternal

HB 204: Public Safety-Pool Lifeguards: This bill is of
particular interest in Ocean
City because there are
thousands of private swimming pools in the resort. It would require the state
to adopt regulations requiring the owners of specified types of swimming pools
to have one lifeguard on duty for every group of 25 or fewer individuals in the
water. The bill is called Connor’s Law after a five-year-old boy who drowned at
a country club swimming pool last year. The child’s parents were awarded $4
million in damages in a civil suit related to the incident.

Senate Bill (SB) 330: Automated External Defibrillator
Programs: This bill would require each county or municipal corporation that
owns or operates a swimming pool to develop and implement an automated external
defibrillator program.

SB 336: Task Force to Study Required Deposits on
Returnable Beverage Containers: This bill could signal the beginning of an
effort to require deposits on returnable beverage containers in Maryland.

HB 284: Consumer Loyalty Card Privacy Act: This bill would
prohibit merchants from sharing or selling specified personal and marketing
information about consumers. Essentially, it would prohibit businesses from
names, addresses and other personal information about their customers with
other merchants.

SB 232: Alcoholic Beverage Tax Rates: This bill would
increase the state tax rates for alcoholic beverages in Maryland from $1.50 to $4.50 per gallon for
distilled spirits; from 40 cents to $1.20 per gallon for wine; and from nine
cents to 54 cents per gallon for beer. The bill had a first reading before the
Budget and Taxation Committee on Monday, but no action has been taken on it.