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Md. General Assembly passes Noah's Law

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Posted at 12:42 AM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-12 06:15:56-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The Latest on developments on the last day of the Maryland General Assembly's 90-day session (all times local):

 11:30 p.m.

Maryland will require ignition interlocks to be installed in the vehicles of first-time drunken drivers who want to keep their license.

The House gave the bill final approval in the last hour of the legislative session Monday. The measure had a high profile because of the death of a 23-year-old police officer in Montgomery County who was hit by a suspected drunken driver while he was working on a sobriety checkpoint last year.

The bill is named "Noah's Law" after the officer, Noah Leotta. It requires ignition interlock for six months for anyone who blows a .08 in a breath test, or else their license would be suspended for that time period.

If someone refuses a breath test, they would either have to install the devices for nine months or have their license suspended for that time.

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11:15 p.m.

The Maryland General Assembly has passed a police reform bill.

Final passage came late Monday night, about an hour before the session ends.

The measure is the product of months of work by a panel that was convened shortly after the Baltimore riots last year. The unrest followed Freddie Gray's death a week after his neck was broken in the back of a police transport van.

The bill changes polices on how police are disciplined, how they are trained and how they are hired.

It also includes changes to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. For example, the period of time residents can file a complaint against police will be extended from 90 days to a year and a day. The measure also limits the time an officer can take to retain an attorney for internal investigations from 10 days to five.

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9 p.m.

A modest tax-relief plan appears to have stalled with only a few hours left in Maryland's legislative session.

Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, who chairs the Senate budget committee, said Monday night the plan would need a sudden turnaround to be revived.

A bill passed by the Senate includes tax cuts to the state's four highest tax brackets as well as relief for low-income workers and a small cut for middle-income workers. The House has passed a bill that focuses on middle- and low-income workers.

The session ends at midnight.

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6 p.m.

The Maryland House of Delegates has given final approval to a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill.

The House passed the bill Monday on a 122-19 vote.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, told reporters during an afternoon news conference that he is very happy with how the bill turned out.

The measure was the product of a work group that used a data-driven approach in an effort to reduce recidivism.

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4:30 p.m.

The Maryland Senate has passed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill.

The Senate on Monday passed the Justice Reinvestment Act on a unanimous vote. That puts it on the path of final passage by the House before the legislative session ends at midnight.

The measure, which is months in the making, covers various criminal justice system issues including imprisonment, parole, treatment options and matters of criminal record expungement.

The overall goal of the bill is to save money by incarcerating nonviolent inmates less and investing savings in drug treatment. The measure eliminates mandatory-minimum sentences for nonviolent, mid- to lower-level drug dealers.

Sen. Robert Zirkin is describing the bill as "a game-changer in terms of our criminal justice system."

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1:55 p.m.

The father of a Montgomery County police officer who died while working to stop drunk drivers says he has been assured by two lawmakers that a bill to expand ignition interlock laws in Maryland will pass this session.

Rich Leotta, whose son Noah died last year after being hit by a suspected drunk driver, said Monday he spoke to two lawmakers who are leading negotiations on two different versions of the legislation. He says he's thankful something will pass to expand the law to require ignition interlock for first offenders.

He says he is hoping that stronger provisions pass that would require drunk drivers to install ignition interlock in their vehicles as soon as they blow a .08 in a breath test. 

The House and Senate have passed different versions of the bill, and a panel of lawmakers is working on the differences. Lawmakers have until midnight to get the bill through the General Assembly.

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8 a.m.

Maryland lawmakers are heading into the last day of their legislative session with some high-profile bills still unresolved.

The session ends Monday at midnight.

Supporters of expanding the state's ignition interlock requirements for all drunken drivers are concerned about a push to include a punitive damages provision in the bill. Supporters say that could end the measure's chances of passing. That's because the House of Delegates hasn't moved forward with a separate bill to allow punitive damages against a defendant in a personal injury case with a blood alcohol level of .15 or greater.

Lawmakers also will be working to pass a police reform bill.

A panel of negotiators reached an agreement on a separate criminal justice reform bill Saturday night. It will go before lawmakers for a final vote.