Cumberland Times-News

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January 9, 2013

Nearly 150 bills already filed cover wide range of topics

CUMBERLAND — The 87 Senate bills and 60 House bills already filed by the opening of the General Assembly’s 2013 session in Annapolis cover a wide range of ground, from criminal history checks for state employees to organ donation laws.

Individuals applying for a driver’s license will be presumed to have consented to be an organ donor unless they opt out, if Senate Bill 40 would become law. Each person would be informed of the law and their right to opt out, according to the language of the bill. Delegate LeRoy Myers Jr. told citizens at a pre-legislative meeting last month that the idea of presuming individuals to be organ donors concerns him.

A constitutional amendment is proposed in House Bill 59. The amendment would prohibit the transfer of dedicated state funds to the general fund. Those transfers have been a sore point for some legislators since Gov. Martin O’Malley has often shored up the general fund with transfers from funds to be used for Chesapeake Bay cleanup and transportation funds designated for road repair.

In the last three years “the governor has raided every fund you can possibly, think of,” said Delegate Wendell Beitzel in 2012. Beitzel introduced legislation to put a lock box on the bay fund in 2012, but the measure did not pass. State Sen. George Edwards recently said he favors a local mass transit tax, perhaps added to the sales tax in urban areas with heavy use of mass transit.

Then, the money in the transportation trust fund could be saved and used for the original purposes of funding road and bridge maintenence.

State employees would be protected from criminal record checks in advance of interviews by Senate Bill 4, which would not apply to correctional or public safety employees. Officials can notify individuals that some criminal convictions may “prohibit employment in some positions,” according to the text of the bill.

Smoking with a child in your car could net a $50 fine if Senate Bill 30 becomes law. The law would ban smoking in a car by a driver or passenger if a child 8 years old or younger was also in the car.

For those who have reached the age of 100, House Bill 37 would require the governor to annually proclaim the second Thursday in May as Maryland Centenarians Day.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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