(March 29, 2013) As members of the General Assembly scrambled to win passage of their respective proposals in time to meet the March 25 crossover deadline — when bills must at least be passed by the chamber where they originate — several proposals were approved that could affect the Lower Eastern Shore, though they were not proposed by local delegation.
For example, House bills that were passed by that chamber last week included a medical marijuana proposal, a signage requirement to make restaurant patrons aware of the potential for food allergies, a stricter sanction against driving with handheld communication devices and a protective measure for landlords trying to defend themselves in court from against nuisance actions caused by their tenants.
The final House vote on a medical marijuana bill (HB 1101) was overwhelmingly approved on a vote of 108-28 on March 25. According to a legislative summary, the proposal would establish a Medical Marijuana Commission tasked with issuing requests for applications for academic medical centers to operate medical marijuana compassionate use programs, establishing a review process for initial and renewal applications, and monitoring and providing oversight for approved programs.
The legislation was sponsored by Delegate Dan Morhaim (D-11) of Baltimore County.
The House approved by a 134-1 vote HB 9, which would require restaurants to post information on food allergies on signage in staff areas and on menus by Jan. 1, 2014. The individual designated as the “person in charge” of a food establishment would be required to view a video on food allergies and food preparation approved by the state.
The bill would also direct the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to develop food allergy information packets, a program to designate certain restaurants as food-allergy friendly, food allergy-related rules and guidelines, and a report on the bill’s impact to the General Assembly by Sept. 30, 2015. It would also designate the second full week of May as Food Allergy Awareness Week.
HB 1222 would provide certain legal protections for landlords who have notified tenants or the district court of their intent to evict because of nuisance conditions caused by either their tenants or individuals on the premises with the tenants’ permission. The bill defines nuisance as: maintenance-related condi-
tions that pose a danger to public health or safety; using building or vehicles to administer dangerous substances or contraband; water-based unsanitary conditions involving plumbing or waste material; or property used for prostitution or the distribution or manufacture of controlled substances.
A hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on the bill has been scheduled for March 28. It was sponsored by Delegate Michael Weir (D-6) from Baltimore County.
The proposal HB 753, which would make texting or operating a handheld communication device a primary traffic offense that by itself could trigger an enforcement action, was approved by the House by a vote of 106-29, March 21.
Essentially, the bill would replace the current status where violations of the ban on driving while operating handheld cell phones is a secondary action that can trigger police enforcement if the driver is stopped for another reason. Instead, it would make the violation a primary violation that would allow officers to stop a motorist without the need to witness another infraction.
A first reading of the bill and referral to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee occurred in the Senate March 22. The proposal was sponsored by Delegate James Malone (D-12A), who represents Baltimore and Howard counties.