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O’Malley signs bill expanding pre-K program
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's hands are reflected on the glass surface of a desk as he prepares to sign a bill in Annapolis, Md., April 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

O’Malley signs bill expanding pre-K program

ANNAPOLIS — As bill sponsors and other supporters gathered behind Gov. Martin O’Malley for pictures, the governor signed more than 100 bills into law Tuesday, including a pre-kindergarten expansion and a law ending the practice of holding the owners of pit bulls to a different liability standard than other dog breed owners.

The government will expand pre-K funding by $4.3 million to support an additional 1,600 students. The measure also requires the state budget to provide funding in subsequent years.

The 2014 General Assembly ended Monday and many of the bills which passed through both legislative chambers are still awaiting the governor’s approval. O’Malley has until May 27 to sign or veto bills.

O’Malley has promised he will sign a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage from the federally set $7.25 an hour to $10.10, a measure the governor has pushed as his top legislative priority since the start of the 90-day session.

O’Malley has also said he would sign a bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, expressing a change of opinion in a statement released on Monday.

On the first day of the session, O’Malley told the “Annapolis Summit” radio broadcast of the Marc Steiner show that he was “not much in favor” of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.

“I’ve seen what drug addiction has done to the people of our state and the people of our city, and I also know that this drug and its use and its abuse can be a gateway to even more harmful behavior,” O’Malley said in January.

But in Monday’s statement, O’Malley said his view has shifted since he was a prosecutor, and he now thinks decriminalization could “lead to a greater focus on far more serious threats to public safety and the lives of our citizens.”

The governor is also reviewing a bill which passed the General Assembly that would push back a planned wind farm in Somerset County by more than a year. The governor’s press office declined on Tuesday to say whether he would sign or veto the measure.

The bill would delay the Great Bay wind project, which costs $200 million and aims to put at least 25 turbines that are up to 600 feet tall in Somerset County. During testimony last week, project managers said this bill could kill the project.

The bill is supported by U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and would allow for a study that would determine whether it’s possible to mitigate spinning turbines’ potential impact on the radar technology used by the nearby Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

-Lyle Kendrick

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