Md. Legislators Return To Annapolis Next Week

BERLIN — With the opening of the 2014 Maryland General Assembly now less than a week away, hundreds of pieces of legislation of local and state importance have already been filed in advance of the session.
The Maryland General Assembly reconvenes at noon next Wednesday and before the 90-day session is over, state lawmakers will debate and ultimately vote on thousands of pieces of legislation from the gravely serious to the somewhat mundane. Less than week before the opening of the 2014 session, already 130 bills have been pre-filed in the Senate with another 106 pre-filed in the House. The following is a brief look at some of the bills already in the hopper:
House Bill 32: Exempt law enforcement vehicles from vehicle window-tinting prohibitions: This bill, if passed, would exempt law enforcement vehicles from a state law already on the books prohibiting the tinting of windows on most vehicles in the state. Delegate Mike McDermott attempted to get this bill passed last year to no avail.
House Bill 50: Repeal Watershed Protection and Restoration Program: This bill is an attempt to repeal stringent stormwater management laws passed by the General Assembly last year. The legislation, if passed, would exempt counties and municipalities from the requirement to adopt and implement laws establishing watershed restoration and protection programs.
House Bill 52: Bicycles and Scooters, Rules of the Road: This bill would require every person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter on a public roadway to adhere to the same laws and rules of the road as drivers of vehicles using the same areas. In a resort area teeming with bikes and scooters, the legislation appears to one whose time has come.
House Bill 60: Repeal of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013: This bill would repeal the stringent gun laws in Maryland passed by the General Assembly last year amid much controversy. State lawmakers passed the legislation last year after another tragic school shooting incident in Connecticut.
House Bill 71: Penalties for Erroneous Citations by Speed Monitoring Cameras: This bill would require an agency or person responsible for erroneously issuing a traffic citation based on a speed monitoring system, or speed camera, to pay a certain penalty to the person to whom the citation was issued. In essence, if it could be proven a speed camera falsely issued a citation to a driver, those responsible for monitoring the speed management system could be held responsible and make amends to those falsely charged.
House Bill 72: Minimum Wage Increase: In what is likely the first of several bills aimed at increasing the minimum wage in Maryland, this legislation would hike the state’s minimum wage to a flat $12.50 per hour. Other legislation proposed include step increases in the minimum wage over a period of several years, but this bill, if passed, would make the leap to $12.50 per hour in a single year.
House Bill 96: Soft Crab Sandwich as Official State Designation: This bill is another attempt to have the soft-shell crab sandwich designated as the official sandwich of the state of Maryland. Last year, lawmakers attempted to pass similar legislation, but it failed to pass before the session expired amid much weightier issues.
House Joint Resolution 1: General Assembly Compensation Commission: This bill would reject a series of recommendations calling for an increase in the compensation package for state lawmakers. The General Assembly Compensation Commission has made a series of recommendations calling for an increase in the salary and benefits package for state Senators and Delegates, but this joint resolution is an attempt to reject those recommendations.
Senate Bill 1: Bay Restoration Fee Exemption: This bill would exempt the user of an on-site sewage disposal system that utilizes the best available technology for nitrogen removal from paying a Bay Restoration fee. The state passed legislation requiring the payment of bay restoration fees, but many property owners are already using nitrogen removal systems that exceed the state standards.
Senate Bill 14: Task Force to Study Public School Start Times: While the effort to push the start of the school year back after Labor Day has gained some traction, this legislation would create a task force to study a later morning start time for public schools in Maryland.
Senate Bill 36: Display of POW-MIA Flag on State Building Grounds: This bill, pre-filed by Mathias, would require the flying of the POW-MIA flag on the grounds of certain state buildings where the U.S. flag is flown. Specifically, it would require the POW-MIA flag to be flown at the State House.
Senate Bill 43: Sale of Drug Paraphernalia to Minors: This bill would allow a county or municipal government to refuse to reissue a business license to an establishment after a second conviction for selling drug paraphernalia to minors. With a proliferation of head shops in the resort, this is one to watch for the local area.