Posted by 01 October 2020
It is now illegal for Maryland businesses to serve food or drinks in Styrofoam or other foam containers.
In 2019, legislators passed a law outlawing the use of polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, containers in food service. Retailers are also banned from selling such containers under the legislation. Gov. Larry Hogan did not support the law, but he did not veto it, either. He let the law go into effect without his signature.
Prior to the statewide law going into effect, three of Maryland’s largest counties already banned the use of these containers, as did Baltimore City.
Supporters of the law said that it will cut down a product that could not be recycled and did not easily biodegrade. They also contended that this ban will save space in landfills and reduce litter. Opponents argued that the burden will fall on small businesses. They also said that it would have no real effect on litter or the environment, since only a tiny amount of litter involved Styrofoam. Some business owners are also pointing out that this is an especially bad time to be placing new burdens on restaurants, which have been struggling with a government-mandated shutdown.
The ban was supposed to go into effect in July. However, the state delayed implementation in light of the uptick in takeout foods in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Under this delay, restaurants could still use their stock of foam containers until today.
Maine and Vermont have similar bans in place, although Maine’s prohibitions do not take effect until 2021.
Posted by 04 March 2020
Voters in Maryland may get a chance to determine if sports betting will be legal in the state. Legislators are considering a bill that would place a question on November’s ballot to allow sports betting at racetracks, casinos, and online.
Under the proposal being debated in the General Assembly, Maryland voters would decide whether or not to allow sports betting at a variety of locations throughout the state. These include the state’s three racetracks and six casinos. The bill would also allow sports betting at a new Redskins football stadium, an inducement to keep the team in Maryland when its lease on the current stadium expires in 2027. In addition, these locations could develop online sports betting sites.
States surrounding Maryland, including Delaware and Pennsylvania, have legalized sports betting. Some legislators argue that Marylanders are visiting these states to bet, so it makes sense for the state to legalize the practice so Maryland benefits. The state estimates that it could raise $20 million a year in tax revenue from legalizes sports betting.
Horse racing tracks in the state are pushing for the bill as a way to stem declining attendance at races. These tracks have been facing financial issues for many years as horse racing has become less popular.
Legislators are considering ways to pay for a state commission slate of recommendations regarding education. Legalizing sports betting is one way to provide some of the money that would be necessary to fully fund the programs called for by this commission.
Do you think that states should legalize sports betting?
Posted by 05 March 2019
It may soon be illegal for Maryland businesses to serve food or drinks in Styrofoam containers.
This week the state Senate passed legislation that would outlaw the use of polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, containers in food service. Retailers are also banned from selling such containers under the legislation.
Three of Maryland’s largest counties already ban the use of this product, as does Baltimore City.
Supporters of the measure said that it was a good way to cut down a product that could not be recycled and did not easily biodegrade. They said this ban would save space in landfills and reduce litter. Opponents argued that the burden would fall on small businesses. They also said that it would have no real effect on litter or the environment, since only a tiny amount of litter involved Styrofoam.
The legislation now moves to the House of Delegates for consideration.
Do you support a ban on Styrofoam food containers?
Posted by 27 February 2019
A cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, is at the center of a legal case that could allow the Supreme Court to further define just how far the government can go in accommodating, or promoting, religion.
The American Legion and residents of Bladensburg erected the cross in 1925 to commemorate those killed in World War I. The state of Maryland has owned the land that the cross sits on since 1961 and a state commission pays for its upkeep.
The American Humanist Association says that this violates the First Amendment. It brought suit to remove the cross from state land on the grounds that this was an impermissible promotion of Christianity. Maryland has resisted doing this, arguing that the cross has secular meaning within the larger context of being situated among other monuments to veterans.
During oral arguments on Wednesday, a majority of the justices seemed willing to buy Maryland’s arguments. They appeared to be searching for ways to find a secular meaning for the monument, which would avoid larger First Amendment questions. Some justices, however, appeared to find it difficult to separate the cross from its Christian meaning.
The court will return a verdict on this case before it adjourns in June.
Do you think that using a cross on public land as a way to commemorate the war dead is a violation of the First Amendment?
Posted by 21 February 2019
If you live in Maryland and do not identify as either male or female, you may soon be able to receive a gender neutral drivers’ license.
Under legislation approved by the state Senate, Marylanders who do not wish to have “F” or “M” on their drivers’ licenses may instead choose “X.” This signifies that the driver identifies as non-binary or gender neutral.
Sponsors of the legislation say that it will help gender neutral individuals participate more fully in society. They say it will help them move off the sidelines of public life. Opponents of the legislation argued that a driver’s license is an identifying document, so it should accurately represent the person who holds it.
Five other states issue gender neutral licenses. Maryland’s neighbor, the District of Columbia, also issues such licenses, and was the first jurisdiction to do so in 2017.
Do you think that states should issue gender neutral drivers’ licenses to people who do not identify as male or female?
Posted by 31 January 2019
It goes by a lot of names – assisted suicide, aid in dying, physician-assisted death, death with dignity, to name a few. Whatever term that one prefers, Maryland legislators are considering a bill that would allow doctors to aid terminally ill people who are seeking to die.
Under proposed legislation, Marylanders with a terminal illness who have fewer than six months to live could receive a prescription for drugs that would allow them to die in their sleep. The “End of Life Option Act” would shield participating physicians from civil or criminal liability for prescribing lethal medication in these instances.
Supporters of this bill say it is necessary to allow those who have painful illnesses to die with dignity. They argue that someone who wants to end his or her life quickly rather than suffering through a painful dying process, a doctor should be able to help that person. Opponents counter that doctors should preserve life, not take it.
Previous versions of this bill have been introduced in Maryland during past legislative sessions but have not received a favorable vote. Sponsors are hopeful that with a new crop of more liberal legislators elected in 2018, this may be the year for it to become law. Governor Larry Hogan has signaled that he is not supportive of assisted suicide.
If this legislation is enacted in Maryland, that state will join California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, and Vermont as states where assisted suicide is legal.
Do you think that it should be legal for doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for patients with a terminal illness?