First Click -- Maryland
Your Daily Download of Maryland's Top Political News and Analysis
Thursday, October 1, 2009:
Our Last Look (For Awhile, at Least) at New Laws
Come Friday, we promise to lead this space with something other than new laws. But after a week of build up, today hardly seemed the day to chart that course.
Starting today, as a result of bills passed earlier this year by the Maryland legislature: it will be easier for judges to take guns away from domestic abusers; teenagers will have to wait a little longer to get drivers' licenses; local jurisdictions will be allowed to deploy speed cameras in school zones; texting while driving is banned; the state will step up efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions; employers who misclassify workers as "independent contractors" will face new sanctions; evidence standards in death penalty cases will be raised; former foster children will be allowed to stay on Medicaid until age 21; and dozens of other changes will take effect.
"Generally these laws are going to go a long way to making Maryland a safer state," Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) tells Laura Smitherman of The Baltimore Sun, who does a grand write up of all that's going down.
In the pages of The Post, Ashley Halsey III writes that new laws intended to crack down on drunk drivers who cause a quarter of Maryland's traffic fatalities take effect to muted applause from those who advocate stronger measures and from lawyers who defend drunk drivers.
Our favorite part of Halsey's story had to do with a law that actually didn't pass, one that would have mandated ignition interlock devices on vehicles of certain drunk drivers. House Judiciary Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George's) told Halsey that mandating their use could cause problems for people convicted of drunken driving who "don't have a car because we can't compel them to buy a car and put one of these in it."
Baltimore Mayor Facing Twin Criminal Trials
As Maryland Democrats head into an election year, one of the great unknowns remains what fallout there might be from the indictments of the mayor of the state's largest city.
The Sun reports today on the latest development in the legal saga of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D): the prospect that indictments for theft and perjury will be tried separately, meaning the mayor may sit at the defense table for two trials.
Dixon's trial on charges that she stole gift cards from needy families will go forward on Nov. 9. No date has been set for the perjury trial.
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