Maryland's participation in the "Super Tuesday" presidential primary is apparently over, as the state Senate has given tentative approval to a bill that would move the state's primary next year to the first Tuesday in March. A similar bill already has cleared the House of Delegates.
Proponents hope the earlier primary date will help Maryland gain more attention from presidential candidates than in the past. Unless another state changes its primary date, Maryland will now fall third behind the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
Several states have pulled out of the Super Tuesday line-up, an ** attempt to clump together the primaries of 15 mostly Southern states to increase the region's political clout.
Next year's Super Tuesday will fall on March 10. Maryland's primary would be March 3 if, as expected, the Senate gives final approval and the governor signs the bill.
YOU DRIVE, YOU SERVE
The Senate also gave its final approval yesterday to a measure that would allow potential jurors to be selected from driver's license records, instead of voter-registration lists, the current source of potential jurors. Proponents contended that people were not registering to vote in order to avoid jury duty. The bill passed 46-1, with only Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski, D-City, opposing. It now goes to the House.
The Senate also passed, 37-10, a bill could would protect the legal rights of thousands of victims of asbestosis, a disease caused by contact with asbestos.
State law requires that personal-injury lawsuits be filed by asbestos victims within 20 years after a cause of action occurs. The bill approved yesterday would extend that deadline to 40 years. It often takes more than 20 years for asbestosis to develop after contact with asbestos.
A similar law already has passed the House.
CITY BILLS GAIN
The Senate gave preliminary approval yesterday to two bills affecting only Baltimore. One would allow musicians to perform and solicit money on city streets.
Another would expand the authority of security officers in the city's public schools. The bill, submitted on behalf of the city administration, would give police powers, including the power of arrest, to a Baltimore City School Police Force appointed by the school board.
The bill was amended to prohibit the school police from carrying guns.
FAIR HOUSING LAW
The House of Delegates yesterday passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would make Maryland's fair-housing law substantially the same as federal law. Supporters said the measure is needed to allow the state Commission on Human Relations to process housing complaints that otherwise would have to be handled at the federal level.
TREE BILL GETS NOD
Hoping to stem the dramatic loss of Maryland forests, the Senate yesterday gave its final approval to a bill requiring developers to replace some of the trees they cut down.
The Senate's 42-5 vote marked the third straight year the upper house has approved the reforestation measure. This year's bill is a weaker version of previous proposals and environmentalists hope it will pass. It would require replanting based on a complex fTC formula that takes into account the type of project and the condition of the land on which a project is being built.
SPECIAL DRIVING GLASSES
The Senate has given tentative approval to a measure that would allow legally blind citizens to drive in Maryland.
Under the proposed law, a citizen who achieves sufficient vision with special, telescope-like eyeglasses can be granted a license to drive during the day. The bill, similar to a Virginia law, is expected to win final Senate approval and then go to the House of Delegates.