Miller asks senators to reconsider gun bill
Senate president says panel should view changes in assault-weapon ban.
In a boost to gun-control advocates, the president of the Maryland Senate wants the committee that killed a proposed ban on assault weapons to reconsider the issue.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, said another vote may not affect the outcome, but that the committee should at least look at changes the House of Delegates made in the legislation proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
"I don't think the vote will change. But they tell me the House version is different from the Senate version, and I hope the committee would give the House the courtesy of a vote," Miller said.
On Friday, state Sen. Walter M. Baker, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, declared the issue dead for the session when the panel killed the measure by a 7-4 vote.
Gun-control advocates hope that a few votes on the committee can be changed after the House bill is considered. The House passed an assault-weapons ban Friday.
But at least one vote the bill's advocates hope to obtain appears out of reach. State Sen. Janice Piccinini, D-Balto. Co., said she would not support a reconsideration of the issue and does not think the committee will either.
"I can tell you that there are enough people on the committee who are angry enough about the way this bill was presented and what it does," Piccinini said.
She said she would write her own weapons bills next year.
David Weaver, a lobbyist with Handgun Control Inc., said, "We're not going home."
The group this week sent out 20,000 postcards to supporters encouraging them to contact their senators. He said the differences in the House version are significant enough to warrant Senate reconsideration.
The Senate version listed 39 different types of semiautomatic, military-style assault weapons to be banned and allowed the State Police superintendent to add more. The House bill shortened the list to 38 such weapons and proposed that the state Handgun Roster Board, which includes some gun-rights advocates, would ban others that were not considered copies of the guns on the list.
A group of hospital workers rallied in Annapolis yesterday in support of HB 962, which would require a study on wage rates in Maryland hospitals.
Members of District 1199E-DC of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care employees want to know why their wages have not kept pace with the cost of living or with other health care workers nationally.
Robert Moore, president of 1199-E, said the union also wants to know if wage adjustments by state hospital regulators are diverted to other uses by the hospital.
The union began a petition drive yesterday to demand fairness, Moore said.
LOBBYIST LIMITS BACKED
Bills that would take lobbyists out of the campaign-financing business and limit the fund-raising role of political action committees have been endorsed by a House committee.
One of the bills adopted by the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee yesterday would prohibit lobbyists from raising funds for candidates for public office. They could make personal donations, but they could not play any other role in campaign financing.
A second bill approved by the panel would limit the amount of money political action committees could give to Maryland candidates.