Tuition breaks, wine ship among bills to be signed
In-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants and direct shipping of wine are among the dozens of bills to be signed this morning by Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Early reaction to bill signings after the jump.
In the second bill signing of the spring -- the next is planned for next week -- O'Malley and legislative leaders are to bless some of the session's more controversial proposals. A complete list is available here. The bills typically don't take effect until July 1 or October 1.
Other measures up for signature today include prescription drug monitoring, tighter gun laws and a commission to develop a method to distribute medical marijuana. The marijuana legislation also will enable sick people to be found not guilty if arrested with a small amount of the drug.
Legislators and local officials, including Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, have gathered in Annapolis for the ceremony, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. The event will be broadcast over the Internet.
The O'Malley administration issued a statement on the tuition bill:
"We have a constitutional obligation to provide a public education for every child in our state," Labor Secretary Alex Sanchez wrote. "But we should not allow our nation’s broken immigration system to serve as an excuse to escape our basic, moral obligation to expand opportunity for all Marylanders, provided they graduated from a Maryland high school, pay taxes in our state, and are on a path toward citizenship."
O'Malley will join President Barack Obama's drug czar later today to discuss Maryland's new prescription drug monitoring program.
Wine advocates cheered the direct-shipping legislation. Wineries can pay $200 per year for a permit to ship to residences.
Kevin Atticks, director of the Maryland Wineries Association, said "wineries are raring to go." The legislation takes effect July 1.
Adam Borden, a wine consumer advocate with Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws, said the shipping legislation is a "major step." But he noted that consumers must continue to fight for retailers, who often have wine of the month clubs, to join wineries in the ability to ship.
Waiting in line to watch the medical marijuana bill being signed, polio survivor Barry Considine, said he was "pleased" with the progress this year. He said he hopes Maryland soon takes the "next step" and helps sick people "avoid arrest altogether" by establishing a state-sanctioned distribution system.