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Legislators return to Annapolis for 2015 session

(Jan. 16, 2015) Education, child/elder issues, workers and wage problems stack the Maryland House of Delegates agenda, while the Senate will look at a wider range of issues, including gambling, taxes, public health and election law in the 90-day session beginning Wednesday.

About 71 members will be new to the 188-member body, but this number could change with Gov.-elect Larry Hogan still making appointments. Democrats control the legislative branch, with members in about two-thirds of seats.

Among the bills the House will be considering include H.B. 4, which will gradually increase the minimum wage in the state effective July 1.

There are a number of bills considering newborn, unattended and abused children and elderly/vulnerable adults, like H.B. 7 which seeks to increase the amount of time before reports and records are expunged and H.B. 9 which seeks to set standards for home births, H.B. 20 increases the penalties for elder abuse and H.B. 23 seeks to establish a registry of people convicted of elder abuse.

Several firearm bills are also in the works, such as H.B. 13, which would allow sellers to use a National Instant Criminal Background Check endorsement in lieu of a police approval if a response is not granted within 7 days.

HB 25 would allow owners of assault rifles to replace or repair a lost or broken, but previously approved, assault rifle. Retired members of the armed forces could hunt on immediate-family owned active farmland without a license if H.B. 14 is signed into law, and H.B. 39 would repeal existing handgun identification requirements.

On the Senate side, S.B. 5 would limit exactly who and how election results can be observed, S.B. 2 develops a program for donations of money, property or labor to higher education for tax credits and S.B. 4 establishes that casino-themed fundraisers would need a permit.

SB 10 will untie the gas tax rates from the consumer price index, SB 14 will change the makeup of the Board of Pharmacy from “a majority” of pharmacists to “at least 1.”

The budget bill is due next Friday, Jan. 23.


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