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Maryland is not shy about new laws – in 2013, there will be 692 new “chapters” or entries into Maryland code. We all know about the oppression of our natural right of self defense and hand held cell phones being a primary offense while driving. But the General Assembly passed much more – here are some that are in effect October 1.
HB 179 increases the types of vaccines that pharmacists may administer. It also mandates that all vaccines administered by pharmacists be reported to the state’s ImmuNet program. The state will now have a vaccine registry. This passed unanimously.
HB 489 adds more state and local employees to the protected class – meaning, it’s more of a crime to threaten or harass them than it is to threaten or harass the People. Only Delegate Oaks voted no – the rest of the House and Senate approved of making one set of rules for them, and one for us.
One of the more egregious bills is HB 653, where the General Assembly voted to allow Charles County code enforcers to both find code violations and arrange to have the violations fixed. Sound outrageous? It is. The bill’s text (changes to the law are in CAPS):
The County Commissioners of Charles County may:
(1) provide penalties for a violation of the building code; AND
(2) ABATE A VIOLATION OF THE BUILDING CODE.
Per the government of Schertz, TX, this is the definition of abatement:
What is Code Abatement? Abatement is when the city hires someone to fix the code violation and bills you. In some cases, the city will abate the nuisance themselves.
Why is this an issue? Would you hire a company to inspect your house and give them carte blanche to fix any issue they find? No. Again, this bill passed unanimously.
HB 613 authorizes specified local governments to issue debt to finance the costs of infrastructure improvements located in or which support “sustainable communities”; they may also condemn property. Tip of the hat for LegWatch volunteer Christina and her analysis of this bill. The fiscal effect of this new law depends on the locality’s financing – interested persons will want to keep an eye on their county government. There was some opposition in the House and only one opposing vote in the Senate.
HB 331 provides for new/expanded fines for violations of the Open Meetings Act. But who pays these fines? You guessed it, you, the taxpayer. Those who break the law are not held severally responsible.
WHEN DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF A FINE UNDER SUBSECTION (A) OF THIS SECTION, THE COURT SHALL CONSIDER THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC BODY AND THE ABILITY OF THE PUBLIC BODY TO PAY THE FINE.
The votes? 10 votes against in the House, 0 in opposition in the Senate.
Misdemeanor penalties are increased for:
- the improper use, damage, and improper transfer of a registered returnable container as well as defacing the identifying marks on a registered container;
- the failure to return a registered returnable container promptly upon request; and
- the violation of plastic secondary packaging [milk crate] provisions.
A first offense is punishable with imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000; subsequent violations may be punished with imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Failure to promptly clean the inside of a registered returnable container that has come into contact with a dairy product is a misdemeanor and is subject to a $500 fine.
The vote? Unanimous.
The number of laws effective October 1 is voluminous. To view them all, you may download the Maryland Legislative Services document listing them all.
Please keep an eye on Maryland Legislative Watch in the 2014 legislative season. We will summarize bad bills and show you how to fight them, easily, from the comfort of your home.
Tags: Code Violations, Government Protected Class, Health Records, Laws, Maryland, Property Rights, Vaccine Registry
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