ANNAPOLIS -- -- Sunday will be a banner day for Marylanders who like to shop 'til they drop.
The shopping bonanza will result from the decision by the 1987 Maryland General Assembly to repeal blue laws, or restrictions on Sunday operations, everywhere in the state except Wicomico, Washington and Allegany counties.
Except in the Washington suburbs and southern Maryland, where the restrictions already had been repealed, the new law will mean an extra day of shopping for consumers and a new work day for many retail store employes.
The blue law repeal is just one of hundreds of new state laws that took effect yesterday.
Auto registration fees are increasing by one-third under a new law, and motorists will have to pay the higher fee as their license tags come up for renewal.
Yesterday was also a big day for some fraternal clubs and veterans organizations on the Eastern Shore because the return of slot machines in nonprofit clubs was authorized by a new law as long as at least half the proceeds are used for charity.
The law applies in every county on the Eastern Shore except for Worcester County. Concerns about possible gambling in Ocean City resulted in that county being omitted from the bill.
Several of the new laws that took effect yesterday deal with suits for damages in liability cases.
There are new restrictions on suits against volunteers for charitable organizations and community recreation programs except in cases where volunteers are guilty of willful, wanton or gross negligence.
Under another new law, a limit of $200,000 has been set for lawsuits filed by anyone injured on local government property or as a result of actions by local government employes.
Another liability law allows awards in medical malpractice suits to be reduced if victims have other sources of funding, such as private insurance, to help cover their losses. This law is intended to slow the rate of increase in premiums for malpractice insurance.
Also yesterday, Maryland joined the growing number of states that require hospitals to make a donation request to every family of a potential organ or tissue donor who has been declared dead.
"I would expect the law to greatly increase families' awareness of organ donation, and that should have a real impact on the organ supply," said Dr. Thomas R. Coughlin, a University of Maryland transplant surgeon and medical director of the Maryland Organ Procurement Center.
The demand for kidneys, hearts, heart-lung combinations, livers and pancreas has ballooned in recent years as new surgical techniques and better postoperative drugs have made transplants common.
The organ supply has grown, but hasn't kept up with the demand because physicians often have been reluctant to make the requests.
Maryland's new statute also requires hospitals to ask all new patients, even those visiting outpatient clinics, if they are willing to donate their organs and tissue.
The maximum fine for throwing litter on highways or dumping trash on public or private property increased from $250 to $1,000.
Penalties for drunk drivers who have at least two previous convictions also will increase, from two years in prison and a $1,000 fine to three years and $2,000.