Glendening signs bills on e-commerce; Measures to promote technology are among nearly 200 new laws; Parting act before trip; Governor visiting Silicon Valley, Oregon, Illinois


Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed a wide-ranging package of technology-promoting bills into law yesterday, then jetted off to Silicon Valley to boast that they will make Maryland a national leader in electronic commerce.

The governor's visit to Cisco Systems in San Jose, Calif., today is the first stop on a weeklong trip that will take him to three states to promote initiatives the state launched or expanded during the General Assembly session that ended this month.

For Glendening, already basking in national attention over passage of his gun safety legislation, the trip will further raise his profile as he prepares to take over the chairmanship of the National Governors' Association in July.

At yesterday's bill-signing, Baltimore venture capitalist Charles J. Nabit said the legislation will give Glendening something to brag about when he visits Silicon Valley.

"He'll be able to tell them that Maryland has the most complete package of legislation and the most e-commerce-friendly environment of any state in the country, which will be said totally accurately and without hyperbole," said Nabit, chief executive officer of Southport Financial Inc.

Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill said the governor's daylong Cisco visit -- with University of Maryland President C. D. "Dan" Mote Jr. at his side -- is part of an effort to cultivate a relationship with the nation's leading Internet hardware company. He said the trip was not directly intended to lure the company to locate facilities in Maryland.

"Obviously, if they look to expand in this area, we'd like to be competitive in that," Morrill said.

Before leaving, the governor went about the repetitious business of posing for pictures while signing more than 200 bills, including the "digital dozen" in his technology package.

As expected, other important measures signed into law yesterday included an expansion of the state's subsidized health insurance program to cover an additional 19,600 children and a blueprint for spending hundreds of millions of dollars from the state's tobacco settlement on anti-smoking and anti-cancer programs.

The governor said Maryland now has the strongest laws in the nation to protect and encourage electronic commerce.

"I must confess that six months ago, I didn't know what digital crime was, and now we're the national leader in fighting it," Glendening said.

The initiatives signed yesterday include the nation's first Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), which protects software and other intellectual property, and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which gives legal standing to electronic contracts.

The electronic-oriented measures also included a bill requiring public library systems to adopt policies to protect children from exposure to obscene material through the Internet.

Other bills in the package -- a mix of administration and legislative initiatives -- expand the delivery of government services over the Internet, set rules for government agencies on collecting personal information on individuals and increase the penalties for breaking into computer systems.

From San Jose, the governor will travel to Oregon on Friday to speak at a "Downtown Solutions Conference" about his Smart Growth initiatives. These include his newly passed Smart Codes legislation, designed to promote development in older downtown neighborhoods.

On Saturday, Glendening will return to California to speak at a Council of State Governments conference in the Napa Valley. His subject will be how he won enactment of the nation's first law requiring built-in locks on handguns.

On his way home next week, the governor will stop in Chicago on Tuesday to meet with a business group called Metropolis 2020 and again talk about Maryland's approach to curbing sprawling development.

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