House passes $1 tire tax
A $1 tax would be imposed on new tires sold in Maryland, under a bill passed overwhelmingly yesterday by the House of Delegates.
An estimated $4 million raised by the tax would be used to clean up scrap tire dumps around the state and to develop tire recycling centers. The program would be administered by the Department of the Environment.
Dealers would dispose of scrap tires using haulers who would take them to designated recycling centers. Except for a question about whether the tax would apply even if the purchaser kept his old tires -- the answer is yes -- the bill passed without debate on a vote of 107-23. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Delegate Virginia M. Thomas, D-Howard, a co-sponsor of the bill, said that as many as 15 million used tires are now stashed in dumps around the state. The threat of fires in these dumps, she said, represents a serious air and water pollution problem.
Community college funding
A Schaefer administration bill to revise the way the state helps fund community college costs was passed yesterday by the House of Delegates.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer said the bill would reduce the share of tuition costs paid by students.
But some opponents complained during debate in the House that it would also give more money to community colleges in poorer counties at the expense of wealthier counties.
The bill still must get the Senate's approval before going to the governor for his signature.
Seat belts, emissions testing
The Senate passed two bills yesterday affecting Maryland drivers -- one expanding the seat belt law and another revising the vehicle emissions testing program so that it meets federal standards.
The seat belt legislation, which has passed the House of Delegates, requires drivers and front-seat passengers of light pickup trucks to wear seat belts and requires children under age 4 or weighing less than 40 pounds to sit in a vehicle safety seat. The bill also requires all children under 10 to wear a seat belt.
The vehicle emissions bill brings seven more counties under the state program and gives the state flexibility to decide whether to maintain the current centralized testing system, change it to a decentralized system in which individual service stations could perform the tests, or operate a combination of the two systems. The House of Delegates has passed a similar bill.
Cigarette vending machine ban
The Senate reversed itself last night, passing a bill that would ban cigarette vending machines from places where minors could have access to them.
Approved 26-18 without debate, the bill now goes to a House committee that last week killed similar legislation. The measure, defeated Friday in the Senate on a vote of 22-20, was revived at the urging of Sen. Arthur Dorman, D-Prince George's.
Pushed as a health issue, the bill is intended to keep cigarettes out of the reach of youths by keeping the vending machines out of bowling alleys, skating rinks, video arcades and other recreational areas where youths tend to congregate.
It is opposed by the tobacco industry, which sees the bill as the legislature's first step toward a complete ban on cigarette sales.
Quote of the day
"The legislature is going to have to decide whether it is going to fund concrete or protect people."
Gov. William Donald Schaefer, referring to supplementary budget requests
10 a.m.: House and Senate convene, State House.
1 p.m.: House Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee considers Senate bill to strengthen open-meetings law, Room 140, House Office Building.
1 p.m.: Senate Finance Committee considers House version of Schaefer administration insurance bills, Presidential Wing, Senate Office Building.
There are 14 days remaining in the 1991 General Assembly session.