By Annie Linskey and Michael Dresser
6:39 AM EST, January 9, 2012
Priority legislation in the 90-day General Assembly session that begins Wednesday
•Gas tax: A blue ribbon commission recommended a 15-cent increase to the gas tax, which has not been raised since 1992. Senate President Miller has said he'd be more comfortable with a 10-cent increase.
•Economic stimulus: Governor O'Malley, House Speaker Busch and Miller have all talked about spurring the state's construction industry with a larger than usual capital budget. A gas tax increase could pay for some of these projects.
•Same-sex marriage: O'Malley said he will make legalizing gay nuptials part of his legislative agenda this year. The bill passed in the Senate last year but was pulled from the House floor after a lengthy debate. Maryland would be the seventh state to allow single-sex marriages. Washington, D.C., also allows them.
• "Flush tax": A commission on water quality recommended tripling the $30 annual fee Marylanders pay on their water bill. The money would largely go toward upgrades at sewage treatment plants.
•Limiting septic systems: O'Malley wants to curb sprawl and pollution into the Chesapeake Bay by making parts of the state off-limits for septic systems. The governor wanted a near ban last year, but has come up with a less sweeping approach this session which would split the state into four zones and allow septics in some rural areas.
•Off-shore wind: O'Malley has suggested he will propose a new framework to bring off-shore wind to Maryland. The program would copy incentives for the solar industry and require utilities to provide a set amount of energy created by turbines.
•Gambling expansion: Proposals include expanding gambling options to include table games and adding a new casino in Prince George's County.
•Legislative redistricting: On the 45th day of the session, late in February, the governor's proposed map for new General Assembly districts becomes law if neither chamber fiddles with it. Though the draft plan has left some members feeling sour, there's little chance that O'Malley's plan will be rewritten.
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