BERLIN – The Maryland General Assembly last week convened for the 426th time and state lawmakers will consider thousands of pieces of legislation until April from bills whose importance would be felt across the state to pieces of legislation germane to specific jurisdictions including Worcester.
Many of the bills introduced and ultimately voted on over the next few months will be critical for the state’s citizenry, while some will appear silly or inane and will never see the light of day. The following is a quick glance at some of the bills introduced during the session’s early days including many Worcester County residents should keep an eye on:
HB 65-Slots for Non-Profit Groups in Worcester County: This bill, introduced by local delegates Norm Conway and James Mathias, would add Worcester to the list of counties in Maryland in which non-profit fraternal, religious and veterans organization can own and operate slot machines in their venues. The bill was introduced last year and made it through the House, but died at the 11th hour when it did not come up for a vote in the Senate.
SB 24-State Aid for School Construction: This bill would require the Board of Public Works to include the cost of planning and design in an approved public school construction cost. Currently, the state only includes funding for bricks and mortar phases of a school construction project. This bill could be important to Worcester County, which has several school construction projects in the planning pipeline.
HB 17-Legislative Redistricting: This bill would amend the state constitution to provide legislative redistricting, to the greatest extent possible, shall result in a resident delegate from every county in the state. It has importance in Worcester County, which shares its legislative district with parts of Wicomico and Somerset counties, making it possible, although not probable, Worcester could end up without a resident of the county in the legislature.
HB 25-Motor Scooter Prohibitions: This bill would alter the current state regulations to prohibit the operation of motor scooters on a roadway where the posted speed limit is more than 30 mph. It would also prohibit operating a motor scooter at a speed in excess of 30 mph. It has bearing in the resort area where motor scooters have proliferated in recent years, particularly along Coastal Highway, where the speed limit is 40 mph in most areas.
HB 35-Buying of Minors: This bill would prohibit a person from buying or offering to buy a minor for money, property or anything else of value. Its introduction makes one wonder why this isn’t a law on the books already.
HB 50-Child Endangerment: This law would prohibit a parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care, custody or responsibility for the supervision of a minor from recklessly acting in a manner that creates a substantial risk of death to the minor or permanent or protracted serious disfigurement, loss of the function of a bodily member or organ or impairment of a bodily member or organ of the minor.
HB 6-Malfunctioning Traffic Light Act: In yet another “why isn’t it a law already” example, the bill would require a driver who is approaching a traffic control signal with no visible lighted indication to reduce speed and prepare to yield to other vehicles in or approaching the intersection.
HB 7-Flags Made in the U.S.A.: This bill would require any U.S. flag or state of Maryland flag displayed on state property to be manufactured in the United States.
SB 20-Trade Regulation– Flags Sold in State: This Senate bill would take the previous bill a step further by prohibiting a person from selling a U.S. flag or Maryland flag in the state unless it is manufactured in the U.S.
HB 21-Fantasy Sports: This bill would exempt fantasy competitions, such as fantasy football or baseball leagues, from the state’s gaming prohibitions.