Medical Marijuana, Handheld Phone Driving Ban Pass on Sine Die

ANNAPOLIS, MD - The 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly came to an end at midnight Tuesday with about 600 bills passing in the legislature this year.


Legislators wrapped up their work for the year and celebrated with balloons and confetti, but a heated atmosphere filled the State House earlier in the day, with many lawmakers giving this year's session two thumbs down.


"I think this is probably one of the most left-winged sessions we've ever had in the history of Maryland. They've really exceeded their quota in passing bad legislation this year. I think it's a real shame. I think the governor is really looking at running for president in a couple of years, and he's trying to build a platform of passing real far-left legislation," says Del. Michael Hough, (R) - Washington and Frederick Counties.


"We did pretty well in Western Maryland with the three counties I represent. We got most of our local bills. We got some projects in the capital budget. Overall, it wasn't so good. Some of the major stuff is probably contrary to the thought process of most of the people I represent," says Sen. George Edwards, (R) - Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties.


"We've had an awful lot of interesting legislation passed, but not a lot of it has been good for Western Maryland. That's been our big concern. Certainly the gas tax is not healthy for us. We might see a short-term bump by getting some road construction money going on, but when the two subway systems kick in 2017 and 2018, all the road money will be mostly dried up at that time," says Sen. David Brinkley, (R) - Frederick County.


In addition to the gas tax, the legislature passed medical marijuana and made it a primary offense to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving. Hough voted against that bill.


"We already have a distracted driving law, so that means any time you're eating a hamburger in your car or doing anything else, police can actually cite you for that," Hough says.


This year, legislators didn't have as much pressure with the big bills already passed. Some of the major bills included the state budget, repealing the death penalty, and enacting tough gun control laws.


The Maryland Senate passed a bill on Sine Die, or the last day of session, repealing the Maryland Court of Appeals Decision labeling all pit bulls as "inherently dangerous." Senator Chris Shank served on the conference committee asked to handle the differences between the house and senate bills.


"It's very important because of the court of appeals decision last summer that basically put landlords, apartment owners, and anybody that owns property as liable, so a lot of people had to make the choice of moving or euthanizing their dog or giving their dog to a shelter," says Shank, (R) - Washington County.


However, the house didn't bite on the bill, and it died.


Another bill passing was sponsored by Senator Ron Young and requires the state to give preference to buying American-made products.


"There are certain exceptions where it's hard to find American-made products. I would like to see it straight out because there's no better way to foster job growth than to buy American products, and there's nothing much being made that can't be made here or that isn't being made here," says Young, (D) - Frederick and Washington Counties.


Governor Martin O'Malley will begin signing the bills into law this week, and your lawmakers are glad, unlike last year, the 2013 session didn't end with having to come back to Annapolis for two special sessions.


Some other bills passing on the last day of session include expanding early voting to include same-day registration and speeding up the process veterans go through to get professional licenses.

Don't Miss

Video Center