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Greenlight for resiliency authorities, housing inspections, and liquor board reforms: Hogan signs Anne Arundel legislation into law

Gov. Larry Hogan took a break from COVID-19 response planning Thursday to approve some legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly in the coronavirus-shortened session earlier this year.

Among successful local bills are the City Dock-inspired Resiliency Authority bill, a bill that will require inspections of Annapolis’ public housing and many of the bills proposing liquor board reform in the county.

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Hogan’s announcement Thursday afternoon also included a lengthy list of vetoes, which was expected after he said last month he wouldn’t approve any legislation that would further the state’s economic burden, which has sickened nearly 30,000, killed more than 1,400, and left nearly half a million residents unemployed.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s future — a $4 million education overhaul — and many crime-related bills’ fate will be decided when the General Assembly gavels in January for veto overrides. Locally, Sen. Sarah Elfreth, D-Annapolis, was the primary sponsor on a bill that would have eliminated library fines and fees for minors across Maryland, which was also vetoed by Hogan.

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Tightened hate crime laws

Now using a noose or swastika to intimate another person or group is prohibited, after Del. Mark Chang, D-Glen Burnie, made this third appeal to his fellow lawmakers. Crossfiled with Elfreth, the bill had renewed support from local leaders after an October report from the Maryland State Police showed Anne Arundel with the most hate crimes and bias incidents in the state. Violators can be punished with up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Funding structures for climate change projects

The City-Dock inspired Resiliency Authority bill championed by Elreth enables local jurisdictions to create funding structures specifically to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Annapolis — or any other jurisdiction in the state — will be able to create a resilience authority that would issue and sell state or local bonds to fund resilience infrastructure projects like the one on City Dock. City and county officials have indicated they plan to do just that.

State Boat Act

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena, and Elfreth teamed up on the State Boat Act, which authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to act without first notifying a boat’s last known owner if it poses immediate hazards, and prohibit the department from using Natural Resources Police funds to remove or store abandoned boats. It also updates the definition of “abandoned or sunken vessels.”

Required inspections of HACA properties

This bill from Del. Shaneka Henson, D-Annapolis, eliminates an exception spelled out in the Maryland Housing and Community Development Article regarding the inspection and licensing of properties overseen by the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis. The article previously authorized local governments to “make exceptions to its sanitary, building, housing, fire, health, subdivision, or other similar laws, rules, regulations” for housing authority properties.

Annapolis will no longer be permitted to make an exception for the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis to a law, rule, regulation that operates in the city and relates to licensing and inspection of real property.

Court dogs

The Courthouse Dog and Child Witness Pilot Program has been part of Anne Arundel and Harford county courts since February 2018. Child witnesses eligible for the program are identified by the state’s attorney’s office, a best interest attorney or a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer who sends a request to the court’s administrative judge for approval. It’s an effort started locally by Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, to help kids.

Illegal dumping

A bill sponsored by Kipke and Simonaire that paves a path for Anne Arundel to prevent litter and dumping, by allowing the Anne Arundel County Council to pass legislation prohibiting it, and imposing criminal and civil penalties for violation in accordance with state law.

Liquor board reform

Anne Arundel County’s liquor board will see substantial reform due to a bipartisan effort of the local delegation. Changes range from substantial changes to the board’s membership, to how application notices must be posted, how licenses work and which types of businesses can obtain them. One successful bill would establish a new license for salons and barbershops to serve alcohol to their patrons.

Among the 11 successful bills was one that will allow a business to transfer it’s license to a new location in the event of a catastrophe; one will change the board’s posting requirements; one will add a new position and raise salaries of inspectors; one will require applications for a license be subject to creditor claims; and one will implement transparency measures including requiring the board’s meetings be live-streamed.

Capital reporter Brooks DuBose contributed to this story.

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