As Maryland's chief executive, he has one of three votes on the powerful state Board of Public Works. But because he also owns stock in Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Gov. William Donald Schaefer abstained from voting on a request for state funds to scrutinize how the utility charges its customers for electricity.
At its weekly meeting in Annapolis yesterday, the board approved a request by the Maryland Public Service Commission to spend an additional $475,000 on a continuing study of how BG&E set rates on electricity the company purchased for its customers while parts of its Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant were shut down.
The PSC, a quasi-judicial agency that regulates utilities, already has paid the Liberty Consulting Group of Baltimore about $250,000 to determine if BG&E customers should have to pay the full $450 million it has charged its customers for electricity since one of its nuclear units shut down in early 1989. The additional funding is needed, said PSC executive director Gregory V. Carmean, to continue the study.
Schaefer, who revealed that he owns 100 shares of BG&E (worth about $2,800), said he did not believe the utility company's charges would prove to be excessive.
"I don't believe, knowing the management, that we need this," Schaefer said of the request for more money to study the rates.
Although he implied that he wanted to vote against the request, Schaefer said he would abstain from voting on the matter.
"I see now, and I said it before, that I'm going to have to sell this stock," he said.
GUN BILLS OK'D
Two Schaefer administration gun control bills won tentative approval yesterday in the House, but law-and-order hard-liners who generally opposed them didn't go away empty handed.
One of the bills would ban the sale and possession of 38 military-style assault weapons. On a 62-58 vote, the House passed an amendment to that measure that would require a mandatory five-year prison term for anyone convicted of committing a violent crime using one of the banned guns.
The amendment was pushed by House Minority Leader Ellen R. Sauerbrey, R-Baltimore County, who noted there is already a similar law punishing criminals who use handguns.
"If we think these weapons are so bad that we're going to single them out . . . we ought to treat them just as severely [as handguns]," Sauerbrey said.
The second bill would require parents to keep their guns locked or out of reach of minors.
Although surprised that her amendment passed, Sauerbrey added, "I think members of the House as a whole, when given the opportunity to vote on things that make it tougher on $H criminals, do that."
BOND RATING KEPT
State Treasurer Lucille Maurer announced at yesterday's Board of Public Works meeting that Moody's Investors Service is retaining Maryland's coveted AAA bond rating. Not long afterward, word came down from New York that the two other bond rating houses -- Fitch's Investors Service and Standard and Poor's Corp. -- also had kept the state on their AAA list.