NEW LAWS: Maryland is banning arsenic in chicken feed, extending the concept of “good time credits” to people on probation and parole, and giving parents a new tool to protect their children from identity theft. All three measures were among a handful of new laws that take effect yesterday, in addition to a much higher-profile initiative: the legalization of same-sex marriage, write the Post’s John Wagner and and Errin Haines.
Tyler Waldman of Patch.com also outlines the new legislation that took effect yesterday.
GAY WEDDING BELLS: Kevin Rector of the Sun reports that shortly after 12:30 a.m. New Year’s Day, not long after fireworks had erupted at the Inner Harbor, seven same-sex couples prepared to take their marriage vows. Various judges were on hand to officiate for them, and others who had fought to legalize same-sex marriage in the state this year — including Del. Mary Washington — were also on hand.
WBFF-TV covers some of the ceremonies.
Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew also was there.
Heather Rawlyk of the Capital-Gazette reports that history will be made today in the court’s historic wedding chapel, where the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Annapolis is expecting a heavy turnout as same-sex couples who received marriage licenses by Friday line up to tie the knot.
Marriage rights have been a central focus in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for some time now, but it is a small part of a much larger struggle, writes Lizzy McLellan for the Capital-Gazette. While the Civil Marriage Protection Act is a victory for same-sex couples and individuals, it is neither the beginning nor the end of a long-fought effort for equality.
UPCOMING BILLS: House Environmental Matters Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh said she and other lawmakers are planning to propose a statewide, 5-cent refundable deposit on recyclable beverage containers. Although it would raise the price of a beverage six-pack, for example, by 30 cents, purchasers could offset that cost by recycling their used beverage containers, writes Margie Hyslop for the Gazette. Other environmental bills could include hydraulic fracturing and protecting the Chesapeake Bay.
Transportation projects and the Maryland budget are likely to be big issues for Montgomery County lawmakers when they return to Annapolis for the 2013 General Assembly, which starts Jan. 9, reports Terrie Hogan in the Gazette.
Members of the Cecil County delegation fully expect gun issues to be taking center stage during the upcoming General Assembly session, writes Cheryl Mattix for the Cecil Whig.
FLOOD MITIGATION: Gov. Martin O’Malley has signed an executive order to increase Maryland’s long-term resiliency to storm-related flooding and sea level rise, according to a story in the Easton Star-Democrat. It requires new and rebuilt state structures to be elevated two or more feet above the 100-year base flood level.
DEATH PENALTY: Anyone following the effort to repeal the death penalty in Maryland knows that the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is the last obstacle needed to bring it to a long-overdue floor vote. Death penalty abolition would save Maryland millions of dollars and prevent future murders. The question deserves an up or down vote on the floor of the Maryland Senate — even if it means restructuring the committee, writes the NAACP’s Gerald Stansbury in an op-ed in the Sun.
FAILURE TO PAY ATTYS FEES: The Board of Public Works refused to obey a federal court order to pay nearly $200,000 to the attorneys of plaintiffs who successfully sued the State of Maryland for civil rights violations, drawing a stinging rebuke from the American Civil Liberties Union, writes Ilana Kowarski for MarylandReporter.com.
DWYER PLANS TO STAY: Anne Arundel County Del. Don Dwyer says he plans to stay in office after being charged with operating a boat while intoxicated, reports Daniel Leaderman in the Gazette.
RUN FOR GOVERNOR: The Sun editorial board puts together a photo preview of the possible candidates for governor in 2014 complete with explanations of where they stand in the pecking order.
MARYLANDREPORTER.COM GRANT: The Abell Foundation of Baltimore has awarded a $35,000 grant to MarylandReporter.com to produce a year-long series of stories on Maryland’s pension system for teachers and public employees.
SNOWDEN’S DECISION: The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette says Carl Snowden’s announcement last week that he is stepping down as director of civil rights for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office is overdue, in light of Snowden’s convictions for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, and the charges of probation violation he now faces.