New Legislative Session Begins Next Week In Annapolis

BERLIN – With next week’s opening of the 2019 Maryland General Assembly, over 120 pieces of legislation have already been pre-filed in advance of the session.

The Maryland General Assembly convenes next Wednesday, Jan. 9 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 a week to go, already 85 bills have been pre-filed in the Senate with another 38 already scheduled for debate in the House.

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 5: This bill would allow custodians of certain 911 communications to deny access to public records under certain conditions. For example, public access to 911 communications could be denied if they contain gory or gruesome injuries, if they could provide access to victims of domestic violence or if they contain information including an individual’s medical history.

Senate Bill 6: This bill would allow for the creation of a basket of cheer permit in Wicomico County. It would allow non-profit organizations in Wicomico to offer a basket of cheer containing alcoholic beverages as prizes and giveaways during fundraising events in the county.

Senate Bill 10: This bill would repeal some state laws regarding hard-shell clamming in state waters in Maryland and clear up other sections of the existing laws. It would repeal a provision that requires a person to obtain a tidal fishing license to catch clams by hand-scape, Shinnecock rake or hydraulic dredge in state waters in Worcester County. It would also prevent individuals from harvesting clams within 300 feet from shore without permission of the property owner.

Senate Bill 12: This bill would require some elements of public art to be used in all capital projects in Maryland that are funded at least 50 percent by the state. The law would apply to all capital projects of at least 15,000 square feet and would be monitored by the Maryland Commission on Public Art and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Senate Bill 19: This bill would establish a bed-and-breakfast license in Wicomico County. The law, if approved, would establish a bed-and-breakfast license in the county for facilities with no more than 10 rooms for accommodations.

Senate Bill 34: This bill would establish a tourist area and corridor sign program under the auspices of the State Highway Administration. It is an idea that has been pitched in local jurisdictions including Ocean City and Worcester County to date. The bill, if approved, would allow signs on certain state roads that point out tourist attractions and other amenities.

House Bill 3: This bill would allow for the option of renewing a motor vehicle registration in Maryland in multiple years at different time schedules. For example, a vehicle owner could register a vehicle for just one year, two years or three years under the options available.

House Bill 4: This bill would prohibit a person from affixing a noose or Swastika on any building or real property with the intent to threaten or intimidate someone else. It’s uncertain why this is not a state law already.

House Bill 9: This bill would lower the minimum age for acquiring a consolidated senior fishing license in Maryland from 65 to 62.

House Bill 17: This bill would allow authorized and regulated dispensaries to sell certain foods containing cannabis if prescribed by a physician.

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.