Crime and punishment
Anyone who used military-style assault weapons in the commission of violent crimes would face a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence under an amendment tacked onto a bill yesterday that would ban 38 specific assault weapons in Maryland.
That measure gained preliminary approval in the House of Delegates after several other proposed amendments were rejected, as did another gun-control bill that would make it a misdemeanor for gun owners to leave loaded, unlocked guns in places where they could be accessible to children.
Both measures could come up for final votes in the House later this week and, if approved, be sent to the Senate where similar bills are already pending.
The amendment requiring the five-year mandatory sentence was approved by a narrow 62-58 vote. People who use handguns in the commission of violent crimes already face the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence in Maryland.
The Board of Public Works approved more than $7 million in state grants yesterday for projects intended to protect ground water and reduce the flow of oxygen-depleting nutrients and sewage into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
The largest grant was $4,232,000 toward the state's share of construction costs for biological nutrient removal (BNR) facilities at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Baltimore County -- the state's largest sewage treatment plant.
The new process, also being financed by the city and county, is expected to cut by half the estimated 22,758 pounds of nitrogen the plant currently discharges into the water.
Another $640,000 in grants was earmarked as the state's share toward construction of nitrogen- and phosphorus-removal facilities at Anne Arundel County's Broadneck water reclamation plant. The board also approved of $2.36 million in grants for sewer projects for the Western Maryland communities of Highfield, Cascade, Pen Mar and Mexico Farms, where failing septic systems pose a threat to ground water supplies.
Phillip Bissett, a warehouse supervisor from Edgewater, has been appointed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to succeed Delegate Aris T. Allen, an 80-year-old retired physician who committed suicide last month after learning he had terminal cancer.
Mr. Bissett, 34, was the choice of the Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee in a secret ballot held Saturday despite the fact that Dr. Allen had left behind notes recommending Dallas Evans, a black businessman, for the post.
Dr. Allen was the sole black member of the county's delegation to the General Assembly. Mr. Bissett is white, and some GOP members questioned whether choosing him demonstrated much sensitivity to the minority community.
Mr. Bissett has been active in Republican politics since 1980 when he worked for the Reagan/Bush campaign and later for former Representative Marjorie S. Holt.
For the record
JoAnn Ellinghaus-Jones of Westminster has been appointed by Governor Schaefer to a 10-year term as a District Court judge in Carroll County. She replaces Judge Francis M. Arnold, who was elevated to the Circuit Court. Mrs. Ellinghaus-Jones is employed as a lawyer with the Law Office of Elwood E. Swam in Hampstead.
Quote of the day
"Money has really taken on a role in this process that's well beyond the role money should play. . . . The average guy thinks this is a world to which he doesn't belong and will never belong."
-- Lobbyist James J. Doyle Jr.,
testifying in favor of laws to limit
the influence of political action
committees and lobbyists
10 a.m.: House and Senate convene, State House.
1 p.m.: Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee considers a variety of gun-control measures, including a Schaefer administration bill to ban assault weapons, Room 300, Senate Office Building.
1 p.m.: House Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee considers a number of bills involving collective bargaining for teachers and other contract negotiation issues, Room 140, House Office Building.
There are 32 days remaining in the 1991 General Assembly session.