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Dry-Cleaning Bill Folds in Committee

By Annapolis Digest
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A bill to require Maryland dry cleaners to pay customers for clothing they damage or lose has been rejected by the House Economic Matters Committee.

The proposal, introduced by Del. Barbara A. Robinson (D-Baltimore), was inspired in part by a D.C. judge's $54 million lawsuit against his neighborhood dry cleaners over a lost pair of gray trousers. Judge Roy L. Pearson Jr.'s lawsuit against Custom Cleaners prompted worldwide ridicule and was dismissed in court.

Robinson's effort to change state law to specify for the first time what dry cleaners must do if they damage or lose clothing drew fierce opposition.

Dozens of dry cleaners and industry lobbyists packed a hearing last week to oppose the measure.

-- Philip Rucker

Not a Good Year for Wine

The Maryland General Assembly appears poised to reject legislation that would let consumers purchase wine from retailers and vineyards over the Internet.

The House Economic Matters Committee has rejected a bill to lift the prohibition of online sales of wine, a law that critics have decried as antiquated and overly protectionist.

The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee heard testimony on the proposal last week but has not voted on the bill.

Wine aficionados from across the state testified before lawmakers considering the proposal from Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) and Del. Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery). Maryland would join 35 other jurisdictions, including Virginia and the District, in legalizing wine shipments.

Maryland's powerful liquor lobby resisted the measure, arguing that it could make tax collection difficult, hurt local retailers and distributors and make it easier for minors to obtain alcohol.

But Raskin said the legislation could still pass in the Senate.

"I think the bill is very much alive on the Senate side, and so the opponents of the wine bill should not be opening any champagne yet," Raskin said.

-- Philip Rucker

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