The General Assembly passed a food allergy awareness bill that will require Maryland restaurants to designate a “person in charge,” who will watch an approved video educating them on food allergies.
Restaurants also will be required to put a sign in the kitchen that explains the dangers of cross-contamination. Even if the food does not contain cheese, for example, the chef might have touched cheese before making it, and the patron might still experience an allergic reaction.
An effort to make the soft-shell crab sandwich Maryland’s state sandwich passed in the Senate, but failed to make it to a vote in the House. Del. Rudolph Cane, D-Wicomico, introduced the House bill and Sen. Richard Colburn, R-Dorchester, introduced the Senate bill in an effort to help Maryland watermen.
Colburn said watermen are an endangered species and this designation would help them.
“The Maryland waterman is on the state seal,” he said. “And that’s a dying breed.”
A ban on the distribution, possession, sale and trade of shark fins in Maryland also passed through the General Assembly. The ban is an attempt to curtail shark fin supply and demand, which has contributed to the collapse of shark populations worldwide.
Maryland joins five other states in banning their distribution.
It is already illegal in the U.S. to remove a shark’s fin and discard the rest of the fish to die in the water, a practice that has been driven by high demand for shark fin soup.
There are 15 watermen who fish for sharks in Maryland waters, and about 10 restaurants that serve shark fin soup, according to a fiscal note accompanying the bill. An amendment was added to the law that exempts smooth-hounds and spiny dogfish sharks, the largest shark harvest in Maryland, in order to soften the impact on commercial fishermen.
The General Assembly also passed a bill that gives a $1 tax credit for each bushel of oyster shells recycled during the year. The oyster shells are returned to the water and act as a hard surface on which to grow new oysters.
Del. Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, sponsored a bill known as “Grace’s Law,” named after a Maryland teenager, Grace McComas, who took her own life after being the target of online harassment and threats.
The bill passed and will make publicly posted cyberbullying a crime in Maryland, thus closing the loophole that exempts harmful material transmitted via social media websites like Twitter and Facebook.
Legislation that would have overturned the 2012 Maryland Court of Appeals decision that labeled pit bull dogs “inherently dangerous” and held landlords legally responsible for pit bull attacks on their property failed on the last day of the session. The House and Senate passed separate bills earlier in the session, but were unable to agree on a compromise.
Lucas High, Hannah Anderson, Amber Larkins, Julia Maldonado, Ethan Rosenberg and Jessica Wilde contributed to this story.