Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Maryland lawmakers work to meet crossover deadline

Associated Press

The Maryland House of Delegates voted Monday to end the statute of limitations for when victims of child sexual abuse can file lawsuits, to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 and to require background checks anytime someone buys a rifle or shotgun.

As the General Assembly reached a milestone in its 90-day legislative session, lawmakers worked late on the day known as crossover. That's a procedural deadline for a bill to pass either the House or the Senate to have a chance of clearing both chambers and making it to the governor's desk. It's not a deadline that's written in stone, but lawmakers generally aim to have legislation they intend to pass clear one of the chambers by the end of the crossover day.

The House measure to remove restrictions for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits passed 136-2. It would change the current law, which says people who say they were victims of abuse as a minor have until they reach 38 years of age to file a lawsuit against their alleged perpetrators. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The bill requiring background checks for long guns, which was approved 90-49, comes after supporters contended Maryland law now has a loophole that enables private sales of long guns without background checks. Opponents, however, said the bill wouldn't stop people from acquiring firearms to commit violence. It now goes to the Senate.

Meanwhile, senators were preparing to take a final vote Monday evening on a bill to allow local school boards to decide whether to start school before or after Labor Day. That measure has been a point of contention between Republican Gov. Larry Hogan , who issued an executive order to require schools to start after Labor Day, and Democrats who control the General Assembly who say different jurisdictions have different scheduling needs.

There are three weeks left in the legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn April 8 at midnight.

Here's a look at some other measures that have been getting attention and have passed at least one chamber:

Minimum wage

Both the House and Senate have approved measures to raise the state's minimum wage from $10.10 to $15 an hour, but differ on the timeline. The House would meet that mark by 2025, and the Senate by 2028; the details are set to be worked out in conference, along with some other issues, for the measure to be passed by the General Assembly. Hogan criticized the measure at a news conference Monday, saying it "would cost us jobs, make us incapable of competing with other states in the region and which could devastate our state's economy."

Education funding

The House has passed a state budget plan of more than $46 billion, with an initial down payment plan to begin implementing recommendations of a state commission on education. A Senate budget committee has passed a modified version of the budget that scales back some of the education funding. After the budget legislation passes the full Senate, a conference committee of House and Senate negotiators will work on the differences.

Hogan strongly criticized a push to put the state on a path of spending billions of dollars without a way of paying for it, adding it is setting the state up for tax increases. "This is exactly the kind of reckless, unsustainable and irresponsible behavior that we have been working so hard to reverse," Hogan said.

Health insurance

The House has approved a scaled-back version of legislation that would have restored a health-insurance mandate that was taken out of federal law. The House has removed the mandate provision, which would have given people without insurance a chance to either pay a penalty or make a down payment on health insurance. Instead, the uninsured will be able to check a box on their state income tax return that will enabled the state's health exchange to determine an uninsured person's eligibility for free or low-cost health insurance.

Hopkins police

The Senate has passed a bill to allow Johns Hopkins University to create its own armed police force.

Fighting pollution

Both chambers have passed different versions of legislation to make Maryland the first state to ban polystyrene, the synthetic polymer often used in Styrofoam, in containers of food and drink.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the minimum wage legislation passed in the House and Senate.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
66°