Guns and crime will top the list of unfinished business Monday as state lawmakers gather in Annapolis for the final day of the 2018 legislative session.
Legislators introduced a record 3,101 bills introduced in the Maryland General Assembly this year. Now Democrats and Republicans will be rushing to salvage parts of what was once sweeping crime-reduction legislation endorsed by Gov. Larry Hogan and lawmakers to help reduce violence in Baltimore. They'll also be trying to negotiate compromises on difficult gun issues, including allowing courts to take weapons from owners believed to be an imminent threat and adopting rules for takingweapons from domestic abusers.
The lawmakers, whose decisions could influence the campaign challenges they'll face in this year's elections, will likely work right up to 11:59 p.m. to approve hundreds of bills to send to Hogan.
The Democratic-controlled General Assembly and the Republican governor struck a bipartisan tone on health care, taxes and gun control. But they engaged in fierce partisan fights over school construction and paid sick leave — differences that were settled when Democrats overrode Hogan's vetoes.
Many important issues, from stabilizing the state's health insurance market to providing more than $8 billion of incentives to Amazon to try luring its second headquarters to Montgomery County, have been resolved.
Other measures need only formal ratification by a second chamber to go to the governor. They include a deal to expand the number of medical marijuana licenses and a bill to set up a commission to investigate allegations of corruption in the Baltimore Police Department that arose in the federal investigation of the agency's Gun Trace Task Force.
Lawmakers still face dozens of controversial bills that must be resolved in the roughly 14 hours between the time they convene in the morning and when they adjourn at night.
Conference committees — groups of negotiators from the Senate and House — are expected to meet to reconcile different versions of two significant gun bills.
A "red flag" bill would allow individuals who are concerned that a gun owner may be an imminent threat to ask a court to order the seizure of that person's firearms — temporarily, at first, and after a hearing, possibly for a longer term. It would also allow judges to issue a search warrant if there were sufficient cause to think the gun owner was not complying.
The Senate and House differ over who may apply for such an order. The Senate wants to restrict eligibility to family or others with a close relationship with the gun owner.
The other gun bill would establish a process for enforcing a law that already bars people convicted of domestic violence from owning firearms.
Another issue going to conference committee is the minimum age at which a person can be married in Maryland. The Senate wants to raise it from 15 to 16, but the House prefers 17.
The Senate approved legislation late last week to increase school safety but took out virtually all the money in the bill over concerns about its cost. The legislation needs a final vote in the House and would have to return to the Senate to consider changes made by the House before it could go to the governor.
Legislation that was proposed in response to Baltimore's record-setting 342 homicides last year made significant progress last week. What was once a single comprehensive measure has been split into four bills. The House passed two of them Saturday and sent them to the Senate. A Senate committee voted Friday to approve two bills to require additional spending on crime programs. Both will be on the Senate floor Monday.
There is plenty of time left for all four to pass if there are no significant delays. But on the final day of session, known in Annapolis by the Latin phrase sine die, any delay can be terminal.