The General Assembly adjourned at midnight Monday after a 90-day session in which lawmakers passed hundreds of bills and rejected hundreds of others. Among the highlights:
The Assembly cleared the way for a special election to fill the remainder of Rep. Albert R. Wynn's term without first holding party primaries. Wynn is leaving Congress to join a lobbying firm. Legislation approved late Monday would let the state central committees choose nominees, sparing taxpayers the cost of a primary election. Donna Edwards, who defeated Wynn in the Democratic primary, and Peter James, who won the GOP primary, are likely to be nominated for the special election.
A proposal to ban felons from receiving money from a state fund that assists crime victims died this week in the General Assembly. The bill, which would have banned certain felons from receiving aid for hospital bills, lost wages and funeral expenses from the Maryland Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, passed the Senate last week but didn't get a vote in the House.
A measure to concentrate new growth around military bases and to provide financing for roads and water and sewerage in designated "BRAC zones" passed in the session's final hours. The bill also authorized local and state officials to negotiate payments in lieu of taxes from private developers building offices, stores and hotels on federal land. Lawmakers also approved $3 million for colleges and universities to serve base employees and their families.
With a bleak economic outlook, lawmakers said they wanted to assist workers without unduly burdening businesses. In the end, they approved the Flexible Leave Act, which lets workers use sick leave to care for a parent, child or spouse, and exempts businesses with few employees. But the legislature rejected a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits to part-time workers.
An effort to repeal a new law requiring all homeowners to apply for the state homestead tax credit failed. Prompted by property owners' confusion and complaints over having to apply for a lucrative credit they used to get automatically, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure. But the bill died in a House committee. Proponents of the law argue that it is needed to weed out landlords and vacation-home owners who are claiming credits they don't deserve, depriving local and state governments of millions in revenue.
When Allstate Corp. and other homeowners insurance carriers began retreating from covering certain coastal areas that are more susceptible to hurricane damage, lawmakers became alarmed. But they stopped short of forcing insurers to provide coverage everywhere in the state and instead approved legislation that would increase regulatory oversight of decisions to refuse coverage and would require discounts on policies if homeowners make improvements to mitigate storm damage.
The hopes of Gov. Martin O'Malley and many of the legislature's most ardent opponents of the death penalty were dashed this year when an effort to repeal capital punishment in Maryland stalled again in a Senate committee. Still, lawmakers agreed to create a commission to study the death penalty in Maryland.