Carroll County Times

Bill roundup: Anne Arundel superintendent sick leave, grain alcohol ban move forward

With one more month left in the 2014 General Assembly, lawmakers are beginning to vote on long calendars of bills each morning.

On Thursday, several bills we've reported on advanced past either the Senate or House of Delegates. Here's a rundown of some of those bills:

Anne Arundel County superintendent sick leave:

The Maryland Senate voted 44-0 on Thursday to pass a bill that would prohibit the Anne Arundel County Board of Education from compensating a superintendent for unused sick leave earned while he or she is employed by any county other than Anne Arundel.

Senate Bill 747, led by Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis, is designed to put the county schools' superintendent on the same level as county teachers when it comes to what they're able to do with sick leave.

In the House, the same bill, proposed by Del. Herb McMillan, R-Annapolis, is expected to get a final vote by the beginning of next week. But Astle's bill will likely pass both chambers first, at which point the proposal will head to Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk.

The legislation was introduced after former superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell departed to become the head of Prince George's County schools last year, taking with him more than $90,000 for unused annual leave and sick leave and raising eyebrows among education experts and union officials.

Banning the sale of grain alcohol:

The Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday voted 103-30 to outlaw sales of alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of 95 percent or more.

The House and Senate have passed differing bills intended to prohibit the sale of alcohol with an alcohol content of 95 percent, or 190 proof, or more. The bill also would make those who violate the law, if enacted, guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine up to $1,000.

The proposal that passed the House, House Bill 359, includes an amendment that exempts nonbeverage permit holders from the law, allowing grain alcohol to be used for manufacturing flavor extracts, medicinal, antiseptic or toilet preparations, or for use by physicians.

The Senate sent Senate Bill 75 to the House on Feb. 5 without a similar amendment. Now in the House, that bill has yet to be heard by the Economic Matters Committee.

The same bill must pass both chambers before it can head to O'Malley's desk for his signature.

Prekindergarten expansion act:

The Senate also passed a bill Thursday introduced by O'Malley's administration to offer prekindergarten to nearly 1,600 more Maryland children.

The Senate voted 44-0 to pass Senate Bill 332. The bill expands prekindergarten services to four-year-old children from families whose income is no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. As of 2013, that would put the threshold at $70,650 for a family of four.

It establishes a competitive grant program to provide funding to qualified public and private prekindergarten providers.

O'Malley's fiscal 2015 budget proposal includes $4.3 million to fund the program.