Law takes a licking

March 20, 2002|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Marylanders who love ice cream, beware: Buying a cone and eating it outdoors is a violation of state law.

But that could change. Yesterday, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill to permit people to buy ice cream cones and eat them outside the store where they're bought.

"Apparently, under current law, if you get an ice cream cone at a place, you have to consume it on the premises," said Del. John Adams Hurson, a Montgomery County Democrat and chairman of the House Environmental Matters Committee. "We thought it would be a good idea to change state law to allow us to carry the ice cream cone outside of the ice cream store and eat it."

The bill, sponsored by Del. Paul S. Stull, a Frederick County Republican, has a most obscure title: "Agriculture - Weights and Measures - Sale of Frozen Desserts."

It permits hand-dipped frozen desserts to be sold by weight, fluid volume or serving. (The bill originally dealt only with ice cream, but was amended to apply to all frozen desserts).

State law now permits frozen desserts to be sold only by fluid volume. The one exception applies to ice cream sold for immediate consumption on the premises. So buying an ice cream cone and taking it outside is a violation of the law - unless the ice cream in the cone was specifically measured for fluid volume.

The bill now moves to the Senate. If approved there and signed by the governor, it would not take effect until Oct. 1, prompting Del. Anthony Brown to ask whether the General Assembly ought to act more quickly.

"We've got the summer coming up," the Prince George's Democrat said. "Did the committee consider this as emergency legislation?"

Hurson replied that the committee did not. So Marylanders who eat their ice cream cones outdoors will have to flout the law for at least one more summer.

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