180-Plus Bills Pre-Filed With General Assembly Session Near

BERLIN — With the opening of the 2018 Maryland General Assembly now less than two weeks away, over 180 pieces of legislation of local and state importance have already been pre-filed in advance of the session.

The Maryland General Assembly convenes on Jan. 10 and before the 90-day session is complete, state lawmakers will debate and ultimately vote on thousands of pieces of legislation from the gravely serious to the somewhat mundane. With less than two weeks to go, already 114 bills have been pre-filed in the Senate with another 70 already scheduled for debate in the House.

While weighty social and economic issues will be debated during the 2018 session, the number of pre-filed bills already in the hopper suggests another busy season for state lawmakers. The following is a brief look at some of the proposed legislation already in the hopper, some of which could have local implications if passed:

Senate Bill 14- This bill would require a handicap parking placard issued to a person with a disability include on its face a color photograph of the person to whom the parking placard is issued. Currently, state-issued handicap parking placards do not include photographs and are easily transferable between vehicles and even drivers.

Senate Bill 16: This bill would set limits on the number of residents allowed to occupy a multiple-occupancy bedroom in a nursing home. The bill, if passed, would set the limit on two occupants allowed in a single multiple-occupancy bedroom in a nursing home facility.

Senate Bill 19: This piece of legislation would prohibit a business that winterizes boats from shrink-wrapping a vessel until all procedures and tasks that require an employee inside the boat are completed. The bill is subtitled Matthew’s Law, and while the genesis of the legislation is uncertain at this point, it appears an individual may have been trapped inside a boat that had been shrink-wrapped somewhere at some point.

Senate Bill 46: In another pre-filed bill with possible local implications, this legislation would require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to require a course of instruction in boating safety education relating to carbon monoxide poisoning. If passed, it would also prohibit anyone from operating a vessel in state waters if it was not equipped with a marine carbon monoxide detection system. It would also prohibit the sale of boats in the state without marine carbon monoxide detection systems.

Senate Bill 34: This bill would repeal a state law that requires the consent of certain counties affected by the construction of a toll road, toll highway or toll bridge if the construction is a new bridge crossing for the Chesapeake Bay. Currently, the Maryland Transportation Authority may not construct any toll road or toll bridge in certain counties without the express consent of the governments of the counties. However, this bill, if passed, would waive the consent requirement if the proposed construction is a new Chesapeake Bay crossing. The effected counties listed in the pre-filed bill include the nine counties of the Eastern Shore including Worcester and Wicomico.

Senate Bill 103: This bill would provide for the establishment of a task force to study the impact of student cell phone use in the classroom. The bill outlines who would serve on the task force including state senator and delegates, school superintendents, teachers, administrators and even parents.

House Bill 1: The bill entitled the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act would authorize the court to terminate the parental rights of an individual convicted of or found by clear, convincing evidence to have committed an act of non-consensual sexual conduct against the other parent that resulted in the conception of the child. This one makes one wonder why this isn’t already a law.

House Bill 5: This bill would require landlords to provide residential tenants with a voter registration application and certain information regarding voter registration when a tenant takes possession of a residential property. This could have implications in the resort area with its countless rental properties.

House Bill 55: This bill is similar to the aforementioned House Bill 5. If passed, it would require licensed real estate brokers and salespersons to provide a voter registration application and other voter registration information to clients at the time of closing on a sale. The presumption is a new homeowner is not yet registered to vote in the jurisdiction in which he or she is purchasing the property.

House Bill 40: This bill would require the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to create a Maryland Animal Abuse Registry and require individuals convicted of certain crimes against animals to register with their local sheriff’s department. It’s akin to the established sex offender registry.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.