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A look at bills passed by the Md. General Assembly

Monday - 4/9/2012, 4:30pm  ET

By The Associated Press
Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A glance at some measures approved by the Maryland General Assembly so far:

MAINTENANCE OF EFFORT

The measure closes loopholes that some counties have been using to avoid meeting school funding requirements. It enables the state to take back money that counties collect on a piggyback tax on state income taxes and send it directly to school boards. It also enables a county where voters have imposed a cap on property tax rates to raise them, if the money goes to education.

HEALTH EXCHANGE

The General Assembly builds on a framework to establish a health insurance marketplace where individuals and small businesses can purchase coverage. States are required to set up exchanges under federal health care reform laws.

GAY MARRIAGE

Maryland became the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage when Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the bill in March. Gay couples cannot marry until 2013 and the new law is expected to face a referendum challenge in the November general election.

FAMILY FARM PRESERVATION

Touted as a bipartisan effort, the bill exempts farms valued less than $5 million from the state estate tax. To qualify for the tax break, someone inheriting a property must agree to use it for farming.

SOCIAL MEDIA-JOB APPLICANTS

The measure prohibits employers from requiring or requesting employees or applicants disclose their user names or passwords to access personal Internet sites and Web-based accounts as a condition of employment.

MARIJUANA PENALTIES

The measure makes changes to the state's criminal laws reducing the penalty for possessing less than seven grams of marijuana to 90 days in prison or a fine of $500. Current law allows for a maximum prison sentence of one year or a $1,000 fine.

HEALTH DISPARITIES

The bill provides state resources to communities where people are in poor health and there are measurable disparities in health care outcomes.

ARSENIC-CHICKEN

Maryland is on its way to becoming the first state to ban an arsenic additive in chicken feed. The General Assembly voted to ban the use of roxarsone, a chemical fed to chicken to help them grow and fight parasites. Once consumed by the chicken, the chemical turns into inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, that proponents said leads to food and water pollution.

CHILD IDENTITY THEFT

The bill allows parents and guardians to freeze their children's credit to prevent the child's identity from being stolen.

CHILD SUPPORT

Lawmakers passed legislation altering child support laws so prisoners are automatically relieved of child support payments while they are incarcerated.

BALTIMORE CITY ELECTIONS

Legislation changes Baltimore City election days to allow residents to elect municipal officials in the same year they vote for U.S. President. City elections are currently held in years in which voters are neither electing the governor nor the president.

SPERM AND EGG DONATIONS

The measure prevents the use of sperm or eggs for assisted reproduction without prior permission after the donor dies. Donors would be required to give written consent for the use of their genetic material in order for it to be used to conceive a child after they die.

FANTASY COMPETITIONS

The measure makes games such as "Fantasy Football" exempt from prohibitions against betting, wagering and gambling in state law. It includes a provision authorizing the state comptroller to adopt certain regulations that could require companies to register with the state.

RETAIL DOGS-HEALTH

The bill creates conditions and requirements for remedy when a dog sold at a retail pet store is found to have an undisclosed disease, illness or prior condition.

PHYLICIA'S LAW

The bill named in memory of North Carolina teen Phylicia Barnes, who disappeared in 2010 while visiting Baltimore and was later found dead, may be the first named for a missing minority child. It requires state officials to publish a list of missing children and annual statistics. They may also keep a list of groups of volunteers to help with searches and local law enforcement must try to include these organizations.


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