Banner: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler
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For Immediate Release
April 11, 2007

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler’s First Legislative Session a Success
First 100 Days in Office Includes New Initiatives, Staff


Working with Governor Martin O’Malley and the legislature, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler fought hard to push forward legislation this session aimed at protecting the Chesapeake Bay, thwarting criminal gang activity, protecting Maryland homeowners from the threat of losing their homes, and empowering consumers with the ability to limit access to personal information.

Attorney General Gansler personally testified, lobbied and supported three bills that directly reflect the goals on which he has focused: public safety, the environment, and civil rights.

In partnership with the Governor’s Office, Speaker Busch, President Miller, and other key legislators, Attorney General Gansler successfully pushed for measures that take important first steps on a statewide basis to combat the growing threat of gang violence in Maryland. Attorney General Gansler has long advocated for Maryland to join 31 other states that have legislation allowing for more effective prosecution of gangs. Therefore, when elected Attorney General, he made it a priority to personally lobby for the passage of the Gang Prosecution Act of 2007. Garnering broad support from the Administration and legislators, the bill establishes new penalties of up to 20 years for gang members that engage in a pattern of criminal activity, empowers the Attorney General to pursue multi-jurisdictional cases, establishes a statewide information center on gang activity, and allows the Attorney General to assist local prosecutors when requested. In addition, the legislation provides additional staff to the Attorney General’s office to create the new Gang Unit in the fall.

Efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay and the environment were also successful this year. In addition to stronger measures to enforce laws against those who wrongfully pollute the Bay, Attorney General Gansler pushed for measures that help prevent pollutants from being dumped into the Bay and to protect our natural resources. Under a bill promoted by Attorney General Gansler and the Chesapeake Bay Commission, Maryland will ban phosphates in dishwasher detergent beginning in 2010. The new legislation will prevent an estimated 15,000 pounds of phosphates from being dumped into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Additional environmental bills supported by the Attorney General include:

  • legislation adding new requirements to stormwater management plans to help prevent stormwater pollution before it occurs in new construction sites;
  • legislation allowing for criminal penalties for violations of solid waste laws;
  • a measure creating a statewide electronic recycling program to include video monitors and computers;
  • and a measure banning hydraulic dredging in Coastal Bays - Maryland now joins Delaware and Virginia in banning the practice.

Attorney General Gansler also supported and lobbied for legislation banning the creation of new ground rents in Maryland and for the gradual extinguishment of existing ground rents. Overwhelmingly supported by the Governor and the legislature, additional measures will ensure tenants receive appropriate notice when ground rents are due and will create a new database to streamline the process of identifying and locating the owner of a ground rent.

After strong support and fierce lobbying by the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General, consumers now have several new tools to help prevent identity theft. New legislation will allow consumers to request a security freeze on their credit reports to help prevent unauthorized access. Another identity theft measure that was successful this session will require companies whose data systems contain sensitive personal information to notify consumers when the information is breached, stolen or otherwise compromised. Attorney General Gansler will continue to work to battle identity theft as a member of the Identity Theft Task Force which will report to the General Assembly next session.

“Working together with Governor O’Malley and the legislature this session, we were able to address significant issues facing our environment and our citizens,” said Attorney General Gansler.

In just a few short months, Attorney General Gansler has worked hard to make important changes in the office. Some of the accomplishments made in his first 100 days include:

  • reorganized the Office’s Criminal Division - the newly restructured division assumed all of the duties assigned to the former Criminal Investigations Division and is now responsible for environmental crime, gun trafficking, Medicaid fraud, elder abuse and neglect, and gang prosecutions;
  • appointed long-time civil rights activist Carl Snowden to the new, executive level position of Director of Civil Rights;
  • appointed Erin Fitzsimmons to the new, executive level position of Special Assistant for the Environment;
  • appointed Paula Carmody to the position of People’s Counsel;
  • appointed Marlana Valdez to the position of Juvenile Justice Monitor;
  • established the Internet Safety Working Group with representatives from the Maryland State Police, Maryland State Department of Education and the University of Maryland to develop strategies and programs to protect children from the underbelly of the internet;
  • established the State’s first Torts Unit, which promises to save the State substantial funds by aggressively defending claims for money damages against the State;
  • entered a multi-state settlement with Bayer Corporation - as a result of the settlement, consumers are better informed of a medication’s adverse side effects prior to taking that medication;
  • filed motion to intervene in New Jersey, et al v EPA - allowing Maryland to join the federal mercury rule challenge;
  • joined with other states in three other environmental challenges over clean air, hazardous waste, and mercury from cement plants;
  • shut down a multimillion dollar hedge fund that had victimized hundreds of Marylanders;
  • obtained more than $1.2 million in relief on behalf of consumers.
  • reached a $90 million dollar settlement, along with other states, with Samsung Corporation;
  • joined other Attorneys General in calling upon Anheuser-Busch to employ additional safeguards to prevent underage access to its new Bud.TV promotional website.

 


   

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