Cumberland Times-News


April 11, 2013

Mixed bag

New Md. laws bring changes for motorists

Now that the annual 90-day legislative session in Annapolis has concluded, Maryland drivers can brace for a number of changes — not the least of which is a hefty increase in the state’s gasoline tax.

The state’s 23.5 cents-per-gallon tax will move to an index tabulation, meaning the tax will be adjusted according to inflation. The first impact is expected to be a four-cent increase this July 1, with subsequent cost increases each year.

It remains our belief that the state should address its mass transportation funding shortages through a fee or tax paid by the urban residents who use the transit system. It was an argument made by a number of rural legislators, but without success.

Another disappointment was the failure of legislation to fix errors and abuses with the state’s speed camera program. Motorists have long complained that the cameras are faulty, particularly those used in school zones.

There were a few positives to come out of the legislature, including a measure to hold a referendum to provide constitutional protection of transportation tax dollars. The so-called lockbox legislation asks voters whether they want to prohibit use of transportation funds for other state expenditures. The vote will take place in the general election of 2014.

People who continue to ignore the current law and talk on hand-held cell phones while driving will soon face stiffer penalties. Lawmakers voted to make the cell phone prohibition a primary offense. Fines for first-time violators increase to $75 from $40 and increase with each subsequent offense. No points will be assessed to a motorist’s license unless the offense contributes to a crash.

Another bill that should enhance transportation safety requires passengers in the rear seat of a vehicle to wear a seat belt. Children under the age of 8 will still be required to be in a child safety seat, unless the child is 4 foot, nine inches or taller.

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    File this one under the We Thought We’d Heard Everything category: A man who attempted the armed robbery of a pizza shop is now suing the pizzeria and the employees who tackled him and wrestled his gun away during the holdup.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • No secrets No secrets

    The idea of fracturing for natural gas makes many people anxious about potential harmful effects. For that reason alone, it is incumbent on Maryland government to require full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • July 20, 1969 July 20, 1969

    When Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago today, it was until that time the mostwatched television programming in history.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

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  • Maryland on target to meet 2025 bay restoration goals

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  • Tough luck Tough luck

    The state has for a second time declined to help Allegany County get federal flood recovery funds in the wake of the June 12 storm.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Heard it all Heard it all

    Pesky thing, this requirement that political candidates file campaign finance reports.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Build it now Build it now

    Anticipated savings from demolition work that will provide ground for a new Allegany High School on Haystack Mountain may allow the addition of an auditorium at the school.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Get on with it

    Now that Maryland State’s Attorney General Doug Gansler has been asked to help with the investigation of the McCoole Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department it is our hope that the probe regains traction.

    July 12, 2014