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Turning point: New laws to expect in Maryland

Tuesday - 3/18/2014, 4:13pm  ET

WASHINGTON - There's a clearer picture of what laws may change and what laws won't in Maryland in the coming year.

Monday night was the crossover deadline for bills to pass through one chamber and be sent to the other. Any new bills passed after the deadline must be approved by the other body's rules committee to be considered.

That is a high hurdle.

Among the bills passed in just one body, the House of Delegates has approved an amended bill to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. A Senate committee takes it up this week.

The House also approved a bill to expand Maryland's medical marijuana program. It has yet to get off the ground.

The Senate passed a separate bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and make it a civil offense penalized by a fine. But it isn't clear whether that bill will pass in the House.

The Senate approved a bill to legalize home poker games among friends.

Based on hearings so far, it's unlikely the so-called "rain tax" will be changed in Annapolis this year.

But there are a number of bills approved by both houses, signaling they're on track to get to the governor's desk.

Among those bills is a push to expand pre-kindergarten programs to more 4-year-old children, put limits on teacher evaluations based on standardized tests in the next two years and bills that would set fines for underage gamblers at Maryland's growing casinos.

Here is a list of bills that passed both the House and Senate in some version (not including bills that would provide state grants to a some local projects):

HB 18/ SB 74: Requires community colleges and public four-year colleges to provide all first-time, full- time freshmen with information on the cost of attending the school at the same time that an award of federal financial aid is sent to a student.

HB 73/ SB 247: Establishes that if a dog injures or kills someone, there's a presumption the owner knew or should have known the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities. Also establishes an owner is liable for a dog running off-leash.

HB 109/ SB 48: Requires election judges to allow disabled voters waiting in line sit. Otherwise they should be moved to the front of the line.

HB 136/ SB 298: Allows Montgomery County to hold beer festivals up to four weekends a year through a non- profit festival organization. The bill requires the festival focuses on promoting Maryland beer.

HB 137/ SB 301: Would allow beauty salons in Montgomery and St. Mary's counties to get special licenses to provide wine or beer by the glass for customers.

HB 141/ SB 306: Would allow barbershops in Montgomery County to be open seven days a week (current limit is six days per week).

HB 275/ SB 481: Establishes that underage gamblers (younger than 21) can get a citation and fine for playing a table game or slot machine in a Maryland casino or for entering or remaining in an area where the slot machines or table games are played. The fine for anyone age 18-20 would be up to $100 for a first offense, up to $500 for a second and up to $1,000 and mandatory gambling addiction treatment for any further violations. Younger offenders would face juvenile court proceedings.

HB 294/ SB 542: Require police to get more training in CPR and other lifesaving techniques, and training on cultural and gender diversity and handling people with various disabilities

HB 297/ SB 332: Pre-K expansion to cover more 4-year-old children through grants to local schools

HB 335/SB 329: New inspections required for Cliffside elevators -- like the one that had a major problem and led to a man's death

HB 344/SB 344: Allows Charles County to adopt an ordinance after a public hearing allowing car dealers sell on Sundays.

HB 359/ SB 75: Would ban the sale of alcohol of 190 proof or more

HB 389/ SB 730: Maryland Transportation Authority will have to study and report on status of all electronic tolling, but more importantly MdTA won't be allowed to implement all- electronic tolling at the Hatem Bridge any time before 2016.

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