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Delegate Steve Lafferty's News from Annapolis


The House completed its work on the State Budget and, in a flurry of activity and long sessions, passed scores of bills which were sent to the Senate for consideration. We had late Sessions last Friday and on Saturday to meet our deadlines. For the current status of the bills we have acted on, you may go to to locate them. While it is impossible to present all of the House bills, here are a few that may be of interest to you.

Environmental Issues

The House passed various bills to further protect our fisheries and the Bay. This included establishing stronger penalties for “poaching” by individuals and groups and the ability to seize fishing gear and equipment for repeated violations. We also passed HB 573 which limits the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous in turf fertilizer, sets application requirements and sets labeling requirements. This is a great step forward to reducing the impact of lawn fertilizers on the Bay.

Another major, and contentious issue, is the drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale Formation in Garrett and Allegheny Counties. Through a process known as “fracking” deep wells are drilled first vertically and then horizontally below the water table. Individual land owners lease land to oil and gas companies to drill for this gas. There are numerous reported problems with this method, including the excessive demand for and use of water, the infiltration of chemicals into the water supply and damage to the roadways leading to the drilling sites. I was pleased to vote for HB 852 which requires an extensive, science based study of the methodology and impacts prior to issuing drilling permits. We want to get it right in Maryland.

I also voted for HB 933 which enables a homeowner to receive renewable energy tax credits for the installation of a solar water heating system. This is an important step in expanding the use of solar energy and reducing our reliance on oil and coal.


HB 671, the MOVE Act, establishes new dates for the Presidential and State primary elections. We had to act in order to meet the requirements of the federal law which assures that overseas military personnel can have their vote counted. The 2012 Presidential Primary will be held on the first Tuesday in April. Maryland’s statewide primary elections will be moved to the last Tuesday in June starting in 2014.


The most closely watched and heavily lobbied bill was HB 1175 which provides for the direct shipment of wine from wineries to consumers. Various controls were put in place to better ensure that minors do not have access and that the shipments are properly handled. This is a good bill which opens up access by consumers.

We also passed a Baltimore County specific bill that sets new fees on alcohol license holders in the County. HB 1243 was requested by the County Executive because these fees have not been raised in nearly 20 years and is currently inadequate to meet the costs of administering the Liquor Board and liquor license inspections.

The last item - a 3% increase in the sales tax on alcohol (from 6% to 9% over three years) - has not yet been voted on in the House. This bill came from the Senate as an alternative to the proposal to create an additional “dime a drink” tax on alcohol. The bill has not come out of committee for us to consider but is likely to be part of the discussion on the final budget.

Efforts to Prevent Discrimination

The House voted to ban discrimination by employers, in housing and financial transactions based on gender identity.  HB 235, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination, was extensively debated before it passed 86-52. The state has expanded protections that many large employers and other states have already established. I voted for this bill to add protections for more Marylanders.

The House also voted to support stronger penalties for those involved in human trafficking. Unfortunately, the exploitation of women in Maryland through trafficking has risen sharply. This legislation will enable the court to direct restitution and the seizure of property from the convicted person.

HB 130 reestablishes data collection and reporting by law enforcement officers regarding traffic stops. This data will be collected for three years in order to determine whether race-based traffic stops are occurring and where. Law enforcement agencies are also being required to adopt policies against any race-based stops.

Next Steps for the Budget

The House worked on the budget first this year. Since its passage, the budget is now being discussed by the Senate. There are differences between the two on retirees’ health care, the alcohol tax, spending on public education and on other issues. The House members have not seen the Senate version yet. Any differences now “go to conference” to resolve the conflicts before there is a final vote. The House will also get the capital budget next week so that funds for schools, libraries, the community college, transportation and various projects will be considered and voted upon.

We are very close to finishing this Session – but there is still a lot to be done. We will have a number of voting sessions in the coming week. As always, feel free to contact me if you have concerns or questions at

Best wishes,


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