ANNAPOLIS — The Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee, by a 6-5 vote, passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, requiring all real estate licensees to be covered by "errors and omissions" insurance.
The bill now goes to the full Senate.
The bill is intended to protect consumers and real estate licensees from possible errors in the property acquisition process and to make the insurance more affordable for small agencies.
The Department of Fiscal Services estimates that the requirement could affect about 62,000 licensees in fiscal 1993.
Under the bill, the state's Real Estate Commission would be required to make the insurance availableto each licensee by contracting with an insurance provider for a group policy, which would result in lower annual premiums.
STUMP FIRE PROMPTS BILL
ANNAPOLIS -- Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, is sponsoring a bill seeking to regulate recycling facilities that was prompted by the "stump dump" fire that has burned for more than a month in Baltimore County, less than onemile from the delegate's home.
The bill would require anyone installing, altering or extending a recycling facility to obtain a permitfrom the Maryland Department of the Environment governing the storage of recyclable materials and the disposal of residues.
LaMotte has testified before the House Environmental Matters Committee on the bill, which was supported by several residents around Granite, Baltimore County; the MDE; and several solid waste and recycling organizations.
Anne Arundel and Prince George's county governments opposed the bill, saying it would interfere with local jurisdictions' efforts to meet recycling goals mandated by the state. The counties already regulate recycling facilities, the opponents say.
The committee has yet to vote on the bill.
LaMotte says any recycling business can operate without any type of regulation by the state or most counties.
ANNAPOLIS -- The House Environmental Matters Committee killed a bill, 14-9, introduced by Delegate Donald B. Elliott that would have required supervisors of certain public places to establish designated smoking and non-smoking areas.
The bill would have applied to restaurants that seat more than 50 people, retail stores with seven or more full-time employees, enclosed shopping malls, auditoriums, arenas and certain workplaces.
Currently, only retail establishments with 20 or more full-time employees are required to designate non-smoking areas under Maryland law. Under an agreement struck with the General Assembly two years ago, restaurants designate non-smoking areas on a voluntary basis.
The Restaurant Association of Maryland provided perhaps the most damaging testimony to Elliott's bill. The association argued that most of its members across the state had complied with the agreement and that forcing the issue through a law would be an insult to their efforts.
A lobbyist for an umbrella group representing heart, cancer and lung associations argued that restaurants weren't complying with the agreement as well as the Restaurant Association had claimed.
Elliott and other proponents of the bill stressed that scientific evidence shows that cigarette smoke adversely affects the health of non-smokers.
The tobacco industry lobbied against the bill, saying it constituted agovernmental intrusion in private enterprise and personal rights.
Elliott introduced a similar bill several years ago that outlined more specific requirements for establishing non-smoking areas.
DELEGATE TARGETS WASTE
ANNAPOLIS -- Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, is co-sponsoring legislation to create the Maryland Commission on Efficiency in Government and conduct a two-year study on cost control and efficiency in state government.
The commission will examine the operation of all departments, boards and agencies within the executive and legislative branches of Maryland government and make recommendations to improve services, cut costs and increase efficiency.
The staff to assist the commission in its in-depthreview of governmental units will be provided by the Department of Fiscal Services and each department reviewed by the panel.
Matthewssaid that the 33-member commission will not be appointed by the governor and "will not be top-heavy with bureaucratic brass."
The commission would include three senators and three delegates, appointed bythe Senate president and speaker of the House, respectively; two ex-officio legislators; the state treasurer and secretary of Budget and Fiscal Planning, or their designee; a secretary of another principal department; and 24 members-at-large, jointly appointed from among theresidents of the state by the Senate president and speaker of the House.
The at-large members would be appointed based on their administrative, financial and entrepreneurial skills based on achieving a geographical balance.