Two of the most controversial bills Maryland state lawmakers grappled with this session became law Thursday.
Gov. Martin O'Malley, flanked by Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, House Speaker Michael Busch and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, signed 268 bills into law. Among them were the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 which increases the state's gas tax, and the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a restrictive gun control bill.
The gun control measure was an important part of O’Malley’s legislative priorities, but was widely contested by Republicans in the General Assembly. Under the law, more than 40 types of guns are banned in Maryland including most semi-automatic rifles. In addition, digital fingerprints of gun owners are required and people who are involuntarily committed are prohbited from owning guns.
The legislation met Republican opposition.
“The fact is, the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 provides no safety,” Senate Minority Leader E.J, Pipkin (R-Dist. 36) of Elkton said during a Senate debate of the bill in April.
O'Malley (D) insisted the law is a step in the right direction.
"The legislation signed today takes a comprehensive, common-sense approach to help keep our communities safe while striking a balance between protecting the safety of law enforcement and our children, and respecting the traditions of hunters and law-abiding citizens to purchase handguns for self-protection," O'Malley said in a statement Thursday.
The gas tax increase, a revenue generator that could help fund the Purple Line in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, barely passed both houses of the General Assembly with Republicans casting most of the votes against the measure, Patch reported.
A May 1 bill signing included bills to repeal the death penalty and ban cyber-bullying.