The Midnight Moment and Key Legislation

The midnight hour struck in Annapolis, marking the end of the 2024 legislative session with confetti, balloons, and cheers filling the Maryland State House. After months of testimony, debate, and compromise on hundreds of bills, lawmakers pushed through several critical pieces of legislation in the final frenzied day.

One of the last bills to squeak through aimed to provide direct assistance to businesses and workers impacted by the catastrophic Key Bridge collapse earlier this year. The final votes came down to the wire in the last hour of the session.

“I’m very happy because we’re able to do what we want for our workers. They are going to get their funds, they won’t have to worry about groceries,” said Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, a Republican co-sponsor from Baltimore County. “As soon as it’s signed, it’s law. That’s really important.”

Among other major items, lawmakers approved a $400 million bond bill to redevelop the aging Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore and keep the Preakness Stakes in the city, at least temporarily relocating it to Laurel Park during construction. Juvenile justice reforms also passed, expanding the charges young offenders between 10-12 years old can face while utilizing diversionary “child in need of supervision” petitions for some first-time car theft cases.

Legislation inspired by the tragic murder of Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere, killed by an offender released early on diminution credits, passed as well – excluding certain violent crimes like first-degree rape from earning automatic “good time” reductions.

Gov. Wes Moore announced he would sign his signature Port Act on Tuesday afternoon, a key priority aimed at supporting workers and businesses impacted by supply chain disruptions.

As the mayhem of the midnight marathon finally ceased, lawmakers could exhale – but only briefly before next year’s session inevitably begins again.