Until those studies are completed in 2014, there is an effective moratorium on fracking in Maryland.
Energy and Environment - Flush Tax
A bill that would help efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay passed in the House Monday with Senate amendments.
The bill doubles a fee referred to as the "flush tax," which raises funds for updates of wastewater treatment plants, as well as septic systems and storm water management.
Currently, the fee costs residents a total of $30 a year, but the bill could increase the fee to $60 a year for some residents.
Cameras on the sides of school buses could snap photos of drivers who illegally pass, resulting in a fine up to $250.
Smokers will still be allowed to smoke with their children in the car after SB 559 was held up in committee and never reached a vote in the House.
Delegate Sam Arora, D-Montgomery, got clarification from the Attorney General's office that texting using voice recognition software is allowed in the state, while regular texting is still banned while driving.
It is unclear whether O'Malley's unpopular gas tax will be addressed in a special session of the legislature. He has also floated the possibility of adding a penny to the state sales tax to address Maryland's transportation infrastructure needs.
Anyone arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana will likely see a reduced fine. Current law stipulates that a person in possession of marijuana can serve a maximum of one year in prison, but a new law will reduce the penalty for a person in possession of less than seven grams of marijuana to a maximum of 90 days in prison, or a fine of $500.
In December 2010, North Carolina teenager Phylicia Barnes disappeared in Baltimore. Her body was found the following April in the Susquehanna River.
The legislature passed a bill, sponsored by Delegate Jill Carter, D-Baltimore, requiring state law enforcement to post a list of missing children.
"Phylicia's Law" also aids in the coordination between volunteer search parties and police, requiring law enforcement to begin searching for a child if they are less than 17 years of age, instead of just 14.
Cross-filed bills which would have increased the penalty for non-fatal strangulation from a second-degree offense to a first-degree offense were blocked in the House Judiciary Committee.
Non-fatal strangulation, seen most commonly in domestic violence cases, received strong support from advocates because of its serious intent and long-term health implications.
House and Senate bills would have made prosecuting these instances easier and would have increased the maximum jail time from 10 to 25 years.
After last year's failed attempt to replace a statue in the U.S. Capitol of Maryland-born John Hanson with underground-railroad leader and Maryland native Harriet Tubman, legislators came back with several different bills this session.
Though there was significantly less controversy surrounding this year's bills, only one measure--a House bill that would award a Tubman statue to Congress--passed both chambers.
Facebook and Twitter accounts will be more secure, as potential or current employers will not be able to ask for social media or email passwords during a job interview. The legislation, by Sen. Ronald Young, D-Frederick, passed unanimously in the Senate and was signed by O'Malley Tuesday.
The bill would exempt certain fantasy sports competitions from current state gambling regulations, allowing Maryland residents the ability to enter and collect prizes. Currently, some fantasy league organizers, like ESPN and CBS, prohibit Marylanders from participating when cash and prizes are at stake.
Delegate John Olszewski, D-Baltimore County, said the bill was necessary because current state law is ambiguous and thus left Marylanders out of fantasy competitions.
"I thought it was an easy fix," Olszewski said. "But obviously it has been more difficult than I thought."
In 2009 and 2010, Olszewski introduced similar bills, neither of which got far enough to be voted on.
The 17th Amendment
In an act for history textbooks, Maryland officially ratified the 17th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which establishes direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote.
The Senate and House joint resolutions at first seemed trivial, but a quick history lesson showed that, despite electing senators by vote since 1913, Maryland was one of the last to ratify the amendment.
By Capital News Service's Mike Bock, Aaron Carter, Mali Krantz, Lizzy McLellan, Tom McParland, Kelsey Miller, David Nyczepir, Ellen Stodola and Amanda Yeager.