In Maryland General Assembly, bills heard on airplane seats, venison donations and more

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Bills on the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration's access to birth certificates; airplane passenger safety; e-cigarette sales; classroom cellphone use; tuition for those in foster care; and venison donations were heard Wednesday by legislators in Annapolis.

A Senate panel is weighing an administration bill that would authorize the Motor Vehicle Administration to electronically access copies of birth and death certificates from the Maryland Department of Health in hopes that it will save time and be more convenient for applicants looking to obtain a driver's license or identification card. Under the current Motor Vehicle Administration process, applicants are required to present an official copy of their birth certificate.

The aftermath of a viral video showing a passenger forcibly being removed from a flight at Chicago's O'Hare Airport in April, according to CBS Baltimore, has prompted Maryland Sen. Jim Rosapepe, D-Prince George's and Anne Arundel, to draft legislation that would prevent police from removing ticketed passengers from an airplane when it is overbooked.

E-cigarettes could be sold by Maryland retailers through the mail and online, under a bill sponsored by Sen. Thomas Middleton, D-Charles, heard Wednesday by a Senate committee. The House is set to hear a companion bill next week and if passed by both the House and Senate the legislation would become effective immediately.

A bill creating a task force to study cellphone use in classrooms, sponsored by Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George's, was heard in a Senate committee Wednesday. It outlined who would serve on the task force: a state senator and delegate, school superintendents, teachers, administrators and parents.

Individuals may be able to receive an income tax credit for donating venison. A House committee heard a bill, sponsored by Delegate Johnny Mautz, R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico Counties, that would allow individuals to claim a credit against their state income tax for donating deer meat to Feed the Hungry organizations. Maryland does not currently offer any similar tax credit.

A proposed expansion of tuition waiver eligibility for individuals placed in foster care was heard by a Senate committee on Wednesday. The new bill, requested by the administration, would offer free tuition to any individual who "enters out-of-home placement after his or her thirteenth birthday, remains in out-of-home placement for at least one year, and is later placed into guardianship, adopted, or reunited with at least one of the individual's parents," according to a legislative policy note. Current legislation requires an individual placed in foster care after age 13 to stay in out-of-home care though their high school graduation; if they are adopted or placed into other guardianship, they lose their eligibility.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Michael Hough, R-Frederick and Carroll, that would allow applicants to obtain preliminary approval of a handgun permit before completing a firearms training course was heard by a Senate committee Wednesday. This would allow the Secretary of State police to be able to issue a permit if the individual meets the other statutory requirements, minus training. Within 120 days after an applicant receives the preliminary approval, the applicant has to provide proof of firearm training completion to the secretary, or their preliminary approval would be revoked.

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