Maryland lawmakers pass dozens of bills on final day

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Local,Maryland,Andy Brownfield

ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland lawmakers passed a flurry of bills before adjourning at midnight Monday, including a measure permitting medical marijuana and one that would ban sex between all school employees and minors.

Before noon, the state Senate had sent the capital budget to Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk. That budget pays for all of the state's construction projects, including $925 million in new bonds.

Lawmakers also sent O'Malley legislation allowing academic medical centers to opt in to a program to distribute medical marijuana and study its effects. In a news conference with reporters in the State House basement, the governor indicated that he is willing to sign the medical marijuana bill into law.

Other bills sent to the governor Monday
• Measure making cellphone use while driving a primary offense, meaning police can pull motorists over for it.
• Bill establishing an Overdose Response Program to administer a drug to help save people overdosing on opioids.
• Proposal to give returning military veterans academic and training credit for duties performed overseas.
• Legislation exempting Lockheed Martin from paying about $450,000 a year in hotel taxes to Montgomery County.
• Bill stating that if a person is charged with human trafficking involving a minor, he or she can't use a defense claiming he or she didn't know the victim's age.
• Measure to direct the state to show preference to companies using American-made products and building materials when awarding state contracts.

The legislature also gave final passage to a bill forbidding sex between all school employees and minors. The measure would make any sexual act between students and full-time permanent school employees a fourth-degree sexual offense punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

Under current state law, 16 is Maryland's age of consent, meaning it is not a crime for an adult to have consensual sex with somebody age 16 or older.

The legislation stems partly from a case last year in which Montgomery County teacher and part-time track coach Scott Spear allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old girl he was coaching.

He was arrested in February over the allegations that he twice had sex with the girl, who he had taught at Julius West Middle School and later coached at Richard Montgomery High School.

Because Spear as a coach fell outside the "full-time permanent" employee definition, prosecutors had to drop the case.- Andy Brownfield

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Andy Brownfield

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner