Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed nearly 200 bills on Election Day, including a couple of measures aimed at increasing voter participation, a bill that limits standardized testing for certain students and legislation to cut down on the abuse and over-prescription of painkiller medications.
Hogan was joined by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) at the second bill signing since the 90-day legislative session ended earlier this month.
One bill that takes effect on July 1 requires various state agencies to link information about registering to vote on their websites’ home pages. For example, universities have to provide a link to the online voter registration system on the web portal that students use to register for classes.
Another bill increases the number of early voting centers in counties that have more than 125,000 registered voters.
The bill calls for three early voting centers in counties where there are between 125,000 and 200,000 registered voters. A county with more than 450,000 registered voters will have 11 early voting centers, up from eight.
The bill takes effect Jan. 1 and would not affect November’s general election. It would affect future elections in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore Frederick, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Hogan also signed a measure that seeks to crack down on the use of highly addictive pain medications, a move to address the state’s heroin epidemic. The measure requires pharmacists and providers to register with the prescription drug monitoring program. It also requires a prescriber to review four months of patient data from the drug monitoring program before prescribing an opioid.
“Every day we hear about another person who died after overdosing on these dangerous opioids and the problem only seems to be getting worse,” Erek L. Barron (D-Prince George’s) said in a statement. “This law, and others like it that are being passed around the country, will help to limit access to these drugs by those who would abuse, misuse or illegally divert them. It is one more tool in the effort to save lives.”
The standardized testing bill scales back the use of assessments in kindergarten. The state started requiring kindergartners to take the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, a computer-based test, in 2014. Under the bill, the tests would be administered only to a sample of students in each local district.
The kindergarten testing bill was one of several education-related measures.
One measure creates P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools) in Maryland, a public-private partnership to train students for technology jobs through a six-year program that blends high school, college and work experience.