Budget, Wine, Unemployment, Sex Offenders Part Of Legislative Agenda
WBAL Radio posted the article below concerning the General Assembly session held January 13, 2010, which included
"legislation that is being introduced in both chambers to allow wineries and
wine stores to ship up to 24 cases of wine to the consumer":
Lawmakers Return To Annapolis With Proposed Tuition Hike
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - Robert Lang
The 427th session of the Maryland General Assembly is underway.
was largely a ceremonial day, as delegates re-elected Michael Busch
the Speaker of the House. Thomas V. "Mike" Miller was re-elected
Martin O'Malley told both chambers that this year will be a tough year,
as lawmakers seek to close a $2-billion budget deficit.
a briefing with reporters, and during an appearance on the C-4 Show on
WBAL, O'Malley also said there will likely be an increase in in-state
tuition at state universities, after the rates were frozen for the last
said the single-digit increase he is proposing is not as big "as the
double digit increases" proposed during the Ehrlich Administration.
O'Malley is due to unveil his budget proposal one week from today.
He said that he will not propose eliminating any state agencies, but there will be cuts.
The day started with a new member of the House of Delegates taking the oath of office.
morning, Busch gave the oath of office to the newest member of the
House of Delegates. Frederick County Commissioner Charles Jenkins, a
Republican, has been chosen to fill the seat of Republican turned
Independent Rick Weldon.
Jenkins said he will run for a full four year term this year.
of the session is expected to be dominated with debate over next year's
state budget, and efforts to eliminate a $2-billion structural deficit.
O'Malley, Speaker Busch and Senate President Miller have ruled out any
kind of tax increase this year, meaning lawmakers will balance the
budget by cutting spending.
Miller and Busch both told WBAL News that additional layoffs and worker furloughs are possible this year.
The session is the last before the fall General Election, where the governor and entire legislature is up for re-election.
Unemployment Benefits To Be Discussed
are seeking to expand unemployment benefits further in Maryland, as the
state's unemployment rate remains at 7.4-percent as of November.
Republicans want to repeal legislation that was approved last year that
expanded unemployment benefits to part-time workers.
that this new law has boosted the unemployment insurance taxes paid by
employers, and that discourages businesses from hiring new workers.
Alcohol Bills On Agenda
for the disabled and for expanded health care for the working poor are
pushing for an increase in the state's alcohol tax. The advocates are
pushing for a 10-cent per drink increase in the tax.
Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller have both told
WBAL News that the tax increase stands little chance of passing this
legislation is being introduced in both chambers to allow wineries and
wine stores to ship up to 24 cases of wine to the consumer.
for Better Wine and Beer Laws say the shipments will provide more
choice for consumers, and will help Maryland's wine industry expand.
Consumers could also buy wine from wineries outside of Maryland.
Liquor wholesalers are among those who oppose the bill.
Death Of 11 Year Old Prompts Legislation.
Several bills are being proposed to address sentences for sex offenders.
bills were introduced in the wake of the death of 11 year old Sarah
Foxwell of Salisbury. Police allege she was kidnapped by a registered
sex offender on the night of December 23. Her body was discovered on
the bills lawmakers will consider, one that will eliminate the so
called "good time" credits for child sex offenders. Another bill would
bar concurrent sentences for offenders.
O'Malley told officials of the Maryland Association of Counties that
the state is considering seeking civil commitments for offenders,
putting them in group homes after they complete their prison terms.
Death Penalty Legislation To Be Revisited
to ban the death penalty is expected to be introduced this year. That
legislation passed the House last year, but not the Senate.
President Mike Miller told WBAL News he expects lawmakers to consider
legislation to remove some of the evidence requirements included in
last year's bill. Miller told WBAL News that he believes those
requirements are too restrictive.
Republican, Democratic Breakdown
There are 33 Democrats and 14 Republicans in the Maryland Senate.
The House of Delegates has 104 Democrats and 37 Republicans.
WBAL Radio Baltimore