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Yeas and Nays: Today in the Md. General Assembly

Dome on a clear day.JPGAn afternoon roundup of noteworthy legislation
moving toward passage or defeat

Wednesday, March 24, 2010:

BUDGET: Maryland's Senate on Wednesday passed a $31.9 billion plan that would shrink overall spending for the fiscal year beginning in July, once reductions in federal stimulus funding are factored in. In most ways, it follows closely to the budget Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) proposed for next year, but trims roughly $120 million from O'Malley's outline and includes a controversial change in future year accounting that could lead to tie-ups in the House of Delegates.

CELL PHONES: The Senate voted 24 to 23 for a bill making it an offense for a driver to use one's hands to do anything but turn a phone on or off or to initiate or terminate a call while in motion. The fine for first-time offenders is $40, but the bill classifies the offense as secondary, meaning a police officer can only cite a motorist after pulling him or her over for another violation. Police say such measures are very difficult to enforce. Still, supporters of the bill said it would send an important message about the dangers of distracted driving.

CARD GAMES: Voters statewide would decide whether to legalize gambling on card games at an ailing Prince George's County racetrack, under a bill passed by the Maryland Senate on Wednesday. The Senate voted 34 to 13 to seek voters' blessing in November to allow some Las Vegas-style table games, including poker and black jack, at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington.

EDUCATION: The highlight Wednesday in the House of Delegates was passage of HB1263, Gov. Martin O'Malley's package of somewhat modest education reforms intended to aid the state's efforts to win federal Race to the Top funding. The bill, which O'Malley's office negotiated with teachers unions, would extend the probationary period for teachers from two years to three and initiate some performance based evaluations for Maryland teachers.

JOBS: The House also corrected a technical problem with the jobs tax credit bill, SB106, and sent it back to the Senate for final approval

-- Aaron C. Davis and John Wagner

By Aaron C. Davis  |  March 24, 2010; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , John Wagner  
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