2014 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

This post summarizes the status of business affairs bills that MACo either considered or took a position on.

Automated Purchasing Machines: HB 918/ SB 382 creates a statewide regulation protocol for automated purchasing machines (APM) and their operators in a manner that is similar to junk dealers and scrap metal processors. MACo testified in SUPPORT with AMENDMENTS that would allow local governments to regulate or ban the machines. Through an agreement between MACo, the APM industry, and law enforcement, the House amended the bill to include a provision preserving the ability for local governments to ban the machines within their jurisdiction while requiring that APMs operating in counties without a ban would have to comply with the state-established regulatory scheme. The bill was passed out of the House and the Senate concurred with the amendments. MACo SUPPORTED the amended bill. For more information on APMs please read previous coverage on Conduit Street.

Final Status: HB 918/ SB 382 passed the General Assembly and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Board of Electricians – Licensing and Regulation of Electricians – Phase Out of Apprentice, Journeyperson, and Master Level Local Licenses: HB 1119/SB 877 in its original form created a statewide licensing programs for all types of electricians and removed authority of local electrical boards. MACo OPPOSED the legislation, stating that local authority to regulate electricians should be maintained. The sponsor amended the legislation to address MACo’s concerns, and MACo changed its position to SUPPORT. The amended legislation provides a statewide program for Master, Journeymen, and Apprentice electricians while maintaining local enforcement authority for the provision of electrical services. (For more information contact Robin Clark at 410.269.0043 or rclark@mdcounties.org)

Final Status: HB 1119 was passed by the House with MACo’s amendments, but it did not pass the Senate.

Feral Cat Nuisance: HB 1473/SB 1010 would create an exemption from the prohibition on abandonment of domestic animals for persons who provide sterilization or life sustaining care to a feral cat that is not owned or lacks visible ownership. The bill would also forbid a county or local government from either (1) prohibiting a person from providing sterilization or life sustaining care to a feral cat that is not owned or lacks visible ownership, or (2) determining that such a cat is a nuisance, potentially dangerous, or dangerous based upon the grounds that the cat is not owned or lacks ownership. MACo OPPOSED this legislation on the basis that the authority and ability for a county or local government to address sterilization and other feral cat management programs, as well as individuals offering those services on a local level, as well as the abilities to manage the nuisance, health and danger concerns associated with feral cats should remain in the hands of the local government.

Final Status: No action was taken by the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee on HB 1473, and no action was taken by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on SB 1010.

Sale of Drug Paraphernalia to a Minor: HB 1316/SB 43 would allow the governing body of a county to adopt a local law that authorizes the county to revoke or not renew the business license of an establishment for the second or subsequent conviction of an employee selling drug paraphernalia to a minor. MACo SUPPORTED this legislation to provide local governments with an additional tool to address what some find is a persistent public safety issue.

Final Status: HB 1316 received an unfavorable report by the House Judiciary Committee and SB 43 was withdrawn after receiving an unfavorable report by the Senate Finance Committee.

Unless otherwise noted, for more information about the bills in this section or other Business Affairs bills, please contact Natasha Mehu at 410.269.0043 or nmehu@mdcounties.org.