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Sequestration, Pit Bulls, A Gun Show Ban in PG County, and MD's Ban On Cell Phone Use While Driving
February 19, 2013
Maryland is among the states most vulnerable from the looming federal spending cuts known as sequestration. A report out yesterday from financial services company Wells Fargo says that our state's reliance on federal spending could lead to major fiscal woes if sequestration occurs. The sequestration cuts start March 1st unless Congress reaches an agreement to prevent them (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun). The Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's County Executives are set to will hold a press conference this morning to call on Congress to act -- and to detail exactly what fiscal damage sequestration could cause their jurisdictions (via the Washington Post).
The Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation has banned all gun shows on county property; PG officials say they'll revisit the decision after Maryland lawmakers and members of Congress take action on bills dealing with gun control. The ban has already lead to the cancellation of one gun show in Prince George's (via our wire service and the Washington Examiner).
The timeline for Congressional votes on gun control legislation isn't clear, but in Maryland, a package of gun-related legislation is set to go before a State Senate committee on Thursday. The measure would ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips, and institute a licensing requirment for new handgun purchases (via the Gazette).
The House of Delegates today will consider a bill essentially overturning a ruling by Maryland's highest court that declared pit bulls "inherently dangerous" dogs, and making landlords liable if one or their tenants' dogs bites someone. The decision led to many pit bull owners facing the choice of whether to get rid of their pets or be evicted. The House legislation would eliminate the "inherently dangerous" designation, and make landlords liable for dog bites from all breeds of dogs -- but only if it can be proved that the landlord should have known the dog was dangerous (via our wire service and WJZ).
Lawmakers in Annapolis this week will consider a bill that would broaden the state's ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving. Currently, doing so is a secondary offense -- meaning that police can fine people for doing so if they first catch drivers violating some other rule of the road. The bill up for consideration would make it a primary offense, and allow police to ticket drivers for talking on their hand-held cell phones whenever their vehicles are on the travel portion of the road -- including at stop signs and red lights. Lawmakers will so consider a number of bills dealing with the state's automated speed camera program (via the Gazette).
Kosher wines made overseas could soon be shipped directly to Marylanders' doors, under a bill moving through the General Assembly. Direct shipping of wine made in the US has been allowed in Maryland for the past two years... but most kosher wine is made abroad, and isn't readily available in many Maryland liquor stores (via the Daily Record).
An effort to repeal a Maryland law limiting developments that rely on septic systems has failed. Lawmakers were considering a Republican-backed bill that would have eliminated the law passed last year that forbids large-scale developments that use septic systems, but the House Environmental Matters Committee" gave the measure an "unfavorable" report yesterday, effectively killing it (via the Baltimore Sun).
Baltimore's Police Academy has a new director; Major Joseph Smith is taking over from Major Eric Russell. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts will introduce Major Smith to recruits today, one week after a trainee was shot in the head at the police academy (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
The Steelworkers union local at Sparrows Point is winding down its operations. United Steelworkers Local 9477 has been taken over by its parent organization, which is standard practice when a steel mill closes (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
And in sports: A North Carolina judge has rejected an effort by the University of Maryland to stop a lawsuit facing it from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC is suing in an effort to force Maryland to pay a $52-million exit fee to leave the conference and join the Big Ten (via our wire service; more here from NBC).
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