Bills on liquor board, school bus passing discussed on final day of Maryland General Assembly

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland lawmakers are racing through the legislative process, working to beat a midnight deadline — that’s when the 90-day session comes to an end.

Among the bills Sen. James Rosapepe, a Democrat from Prince George’s County, hopes to pass is the one that will overhaul the operations of the county’s liquor board, which has been mired in scandal since the federal indictments of the board’s director and a member as well as a former state delegate.

The bill would professionalize the liquor board, Rosapepe said.

“We want our liquor regulation board to be looking out for the people and clean up these concerns—which are very real — about corruption.”

Del. Al Carr, a Democrat representing Montgomery County, is hoping a bill that would extend penalties to drivers of rental cars when they pass stopped school buses will be enacted. Right now, Carr says, about 3-4 percent of tickets issued to drivers who pass stopped school buses are torn up.

“There’s really an astounding number of people that drive around stopped school buses,” Carr said.

Under the bill he proposed, when an infraction occurs, a notice would be sent to the rental company, which would then have to supply the name of the driver who rented the car, and the citation would be forwarded to that driver.

Bills that have already passed in Annapolis:

  • Fracking ban: A bill that bans fracking in the state. The ban was supported by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
  • Sick Leave: Under the bill passed, businesses with 15 or more employees are required to provide five days of paid sick leave.
  • Environment: Oyster sanctuaries would remain off limits to watermen until further study, expected to be completed next year. Also, it issues a ban on the hunting of cow-nosed rays. The ban would remain in effect until the middle of 2019.
  • Attorney General: Under this bill, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh would have expanded powers to sue the federal government in cases where his office believes federal action would harm Maryland. Another action gives the AG’s office $1 million to fund lawsuits against the federal government.

Sine die, the final day of the Maryland legislative session, featured the return of Sen. Nathaniel Oaks, a Democrat who represents Baltimore. He spent Friday afternoon in federal court answering to charges of wire fraud and taking more than $15,000 in exchange for his influence. At the start of Monday’s session, Senate President Mike Miller said Oaks would not be attending the last day of the lawmaking session, so as not to be a distraction. Then, Oaks did show up, avoiding reporters’ questions as he left the chamber at one point.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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