MARYLAND

Maryland Gov. O'Malley signs environmental bills, Phylicia's Law

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has put his signature on 294 bills passed by the legislature this year.

O'Malley signed the bills, which included his initiatives to increase the state's so-called flush tax and limit where new septic systems can be placed, during more than two-hour long ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

The flush-tax proposals will double a $30 annual fee paid by state residents and the septic legislation will restrict new septic-based development in the state's most rural areas.

O'Malley also signed legislation to eliminate estate taxes on family farms if people who inherit the property agree to use it for agricultural purposes.

"Taken together, these reforms are going to do a much better job of preserving the agricultural lands that make Maryland Maryland," the Democrat governor said before the signing.

He also signed a bill designed to improve coordination between law enforcement and community groups when a child disappears.

Named after Phylicia Barnes, a North Carolina teen who disappeared in 2010 while visiting Baltimore and was later found dead, the bill requires state officials to publish a list of missing children and annual statistics.

Other bills signed by O'Malley included measures to require the state to keep a list registry of foreclosed properties and a bill that makes it illegal for employers to ask for applicants' or workers' log-in information for social media websites.

Maryland is the first state to protect employee online account access information.

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