Correction to This Article
A chart about Maryland legislative action incorrectly included package-delivery businesses among the employers covered by a bill that would levy penalties on companies misclassifying their workers as independent contractors.
Legislative Scorecard

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Maryland General Assembly adjourned at midnight at the conclusion of its annual 90-day session. Here's what happened to legislation addressing key issues:

Domestic violence: Passed two bills giving judges more authority to take firearms from people accused of domestic violence.

Speed cameras: Passed a bill authorizing speed cameras statewide in work zones and school zones.

Death penalty: Amended a bill to repeal the death penalty, instead passing legislation that limits capital cases to those with DNA or biological evidence, a videotaped confession or a videotape linking the suspect to a homicide.

Energy re-regulation: Killed a bill to give state regulators new tools to order utilities to build power plants, which would have moved the state back toward a more regulated system for residential customers.

Climate change: Passed a bill that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions thought to contribute to global warming; passed measure requiring owners of waterfront homes to upgrade failed septic systems to curb nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Preakness Stakes: Passed a bill to authorize the state to purchase or take by eminent domain the Preakness Stakes and horse-racing tracks owned by Magna Entertainment, which is in bankruptcy proceedings.

Texting while driving: Passed a bill to make it a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, to write or send a text message while operating a vehicle.

Teen driving: Passed legislation requiring teens to hold a learner's permit for nine months instead of six and a restricted provisional license until age 18.

Unemployment insurance: Passed a bill extending unemployment insurance to part-time workers.

University tuition: Included funds in budget to allow a fourth consecutive year of a tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates at public universities; final decision rests with university regents.

Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants: Approved a compromise bill eliminating illegal immigrants' access to driver's licenses; allows undocumented immigrants holding licenses to get a limited driving permit that would expire in 2015.

Police surveillance: Approved curbs on law enforcement authority to open undercover investigations of political activists, requiring credible evidence of criminal plans.

Porn on campus: Inserted language in the budget requiring university policies on screening pornographic films by Sept. 1. State funding is not contingent on the report.

Medevac: Efforts to dramatically overhaul or privatize the Maryland State Police helicopter program largely fizzled as a House task force recommended modest changes and lawmakers agreed to start replacing state police's fleet with three new helicopters next year costing $52.5 million.

Prince George's school headquarters: Restricted the county's Board of Education from spending any money on a 10-year, $36 million lease for new office space signed in June.

D.C. United: Decided not to pursue legislation to allow the Maryland Stadium Authority to float bonds for a new soccer stadium in Prince George's or study the economic benefits of a stadium.

Voting issues: Implemented an early-voting program approved in a November referendum and facilitated the state's move to voting machines that offer a paper trail by next year.

Tax exemption for domestic partners: Extended the same exemption from the inheritance tax on primary residences to domestic partners, including same-sex couples, that is now provided spouses, children and other family members.

Worker rights: Passed a bill that fines and penalizes employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors. Applies to construction, landscaping and package delivery business.

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