ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Martin O'Malley has signed his first bill of the year, expanding the state's pre-kindergarten program to another 1,600 children from low-income families.
The ceremony was held Tuesday, hours after the General Assembly session ended.
O'Malley included $4.3 million in next year's budget to fund the expansion, but it took an act of the legislature to put his plan in action.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is running for governor, called the measure another step toward universal pre-K, a major theme of his campaign.
O'Malley also signed bills on dog bite liability and highway carpool lane use and ignition interlocks for certain people repeatedly convicted of drunken driving. He put off higher-profile bills, including a minimum wage hike and marijuana decriminalization, for coming weeks.
Bills That Failed
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Lawmakers' plans to allow shielding of certain criminal records and reform Maryland's bail system were lost in the shuffle of the legislative session's final days.
At least a few measures that pass both chambers generally die when the House and Senate disagree on details. That was also the fate of this year's effort to increase tax credits for film projects to at least $11 million annually.
The shielding bill would have allowed certain nonviolent misdemeanor records to be blocked from public access. The House voted to remove these records from the state's online database, but wouldn't agree to make them inaccessible at court houses, as the Senate wanted.
Measures to legalize marijuana, raise speed limits, heighten penalties for hazing and require employers to provide sick leave also failed this year.