Advocates make last stand for 'Noah's Law'

Posted at 5:21 PM, Apr 11, 2016

Sine Die marks the 90th and final day of the Maryland General Assembly. It’s the last opportunity for a bill to pass in both the House and Senate before the legislative session is over.

Two bills in particular have been several years in the making but never advanced to where they are now. Advocates are making one last stand to urge legislators to pass "Noah’s Law," a bill that would expand ignition interlock requirements, as well as a bill that would require any employer with 10 or more workers to provide earned paid sick leave.

See also: Montgomery County officer dies after getting hit by suspected drunk, drugged driver

“It's Sine Die in Annapolis, anything can happen,” said Melissa Broome, the deputy director for Job Opportunities Task Force, and one of the founding members of Working Matters.

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act passed in the House last week, but with time running out, its successful passage in the Senate looked bleak. Monday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill and advocates are waiting to see where it goes next.

“This is a piece of legislation that's been around for four years. It's a bill that will impact hundreds of thousands of working Marylanders and we're excited to see what's next,” said Broome.

She attributed this year’s momentum to the groundswell of support for the bill.

Related: Noah's Law would require ignition interlock for all drunk drivers

“This year has been stronger than ever. We've had advocates outside the State House every morning for the past week and a half with their signs just asking and urging their legislators to pay attention and take action and seems like they're voices have been heard,” she said.

Another bill that’s stalled year after year was one that would strengthen drunken driving laws. This year the bill found new life in the death of Montgomery County police officer Noah Leotta who was killed by a drunk driver while on DUI patrol in December. The bill was named “Noah’s Law” in his memory and would expand the use of ignition interlock devices on drunk drivers’ vehicles.

A version of the bill passed in both the House and Senate and was set to be discussed in a conference committee to work out the differences and to draft the final version of the bill that would need to be approved in both chambers. Rich Leotta, Officer Noah Leotta’s father, said he was frustrated with the political gamesmanship and length of time it was taking to reach a compromise.

“I just don't think that you should be having power plays at this stage of the game because basically you're doing power plays with peoples' lives,” he said.

Leotta told ABC2 News that he's received some assurance from leadership that a form of the bill will pass this session, but on the 90th and final day, if for some reason it doesn’t, he said he’s not going to take it lightly.

“Because if they don't get it done, if I find out at the end of the day that somehow this failed, they're accomplices to murder and there's blood on their hands,” Leotta said.

This year's General Assembly session adjourns at midnight on Monday.

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