On Maryland lawmakers’ to-do list: Gas taxes, gun control

Feds’ ‘fiscal cliff’ 
casts shadow on 
budget planning

continued from page 1

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“There will be another effort to repeal the death penalty,” Mr. Frosh said. “The members of the Senate have changed since the last time there was a vote.”

He said this new composition of delegates and senators could potentially tip the historically balanced scale towards a successful repeal.

Mr. Frosh is one of the legislators who has said he will propose new gun laws in the wake of the killings in Connecticut.

He also said members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee “have some unfinished business,” relating to another controversial issue: pit bulls.

A Maryland Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year that said purebred pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” and that decided property owners also are liable for incidents related to pit bulls, has left the legislature searching for ways to respond.

Ms. Dumais said that because the effort to nail down legislation regarding pit-bull owner liability during a special session in August failed, it is bound to resurface in January.

“Obviously, during the special session, we tried to do something,” Ms. Dumais said. “The House and the Senate have two very different ideas [of what] should be done.”

The Maryland Dream Act, Question 4, which authorizes in-state college-tuition rates for some illegal-immigrant students; Question 6, which legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland; and Question 7, which approved casino expansion, were all passed as a result of the past two legislative sessions, but, Mr. Fry said social issues will not be as predominant in 2013.

“Most of the legislators are hoping that this is a much quieter year than last year,” Mr. Fry said. “They’ve gone through a very tough legislative session last year, as well as a number of special sessions. … They would hope that this is not going to have the same level of volatility.”

Other issues to watch for include offshore wind energy, the budget and the implementation of federal health care reform, as well as potential legislation promoting transgender equality.

However, House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell said that regardless of what shows up on the 2013 legislative agenda, fiscal stability is the most important issue.

“The reality is, that going into the seventh year of the O’Malley administration, we have failed to put our fiscal house in order in the state, and we have not prepared for the looming fiscal problems,” said Mr. O’Donnell, Calvert Republican.

“Our focus should be solely on creating an environment of free enterprise and job creation,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “That is more than enough to focus on. That should be our first, foremost and only focus in the upcoming session.”

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