Senate votes for $8,000 limit on PAC gifts
The Maryland Senate overwhelmingly passed a campaign finance reform bill today, but the Senate and House still differ over limits on contributions from political action committees.
The Senate version sailed through by a 46-1 margin after attempts failed to lower the overall limit on PAC contributions to local candidates from $8,000 to $4,000. The bill passed by the House includes the lower limit, and the differences will have to be resolved in conference committee.
The lone dissenter was Senate Minority Leader John A. Cade, R-Anne Arundel, who called the measure "a bill that was forced upon us by a bunch of goody-goody two-shoes and the media."
The $8,000 limit had been set in the original version of the bill, but the House of Delegates last month lowered it to $4,000. There are currently no limits on PAC contributions in Maryland.
Negotiators for the House and Senate will have to reach a compromise or the bill could die.
In the wrangling that preceded today's passage, the Senate turned back an attempt to lower limits on PAC contributions to local candidates to $4,000. The vote was 18-29.
"I am concerned about the buying of elections in the state," said Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-City, speaking in support of the amendment to lower the limits, offered by Sen. Idamae Garrott, D-Montgomery.
But Sen. Michael J. Collins, D-Balto. Co., chairman of a subcommittee that drafted the legislation, said the $8,000 limit was reasonable in light of the fast-growing costs of campaigning.
"The $8,000 does not buy postage in a campaign today, let alone a vote," Collins said.
THE GUV, LIVE
Gov. William Donald Schaefer, a frequent guest and caller on local radio talk shows, will be the guest on the nationally syndicated Larry King radio show on Friday.
Schaefer will participate in the show from 11 p.m. to midnight, discussing a wide range of issues, said Paul Schurick, a spokesman for the governor.
The show, which accepts calls from listeners, is heard on about 800 stations across the country, including WBAL in Baltimore.
A vote on legislation that would allow South Baltimore residents to decide whether to secede from the city, scheduled for yesterday, was delayed until today.
Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Eastern Shore and chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, originally said he would kill the bill at the request of the city delegation by not bringing it to a vote. But he reversed himself Tuesday at the request of the bill's sponsor, Sen. George W. Della Jr., D-City.
The bill would allow about 14,000 residents of the Curtis Bay, Fairfield and Brooklyn neighborhoods of South Baltimore to vote on whether to have their region annexed by Anne Arundel County. A majority of voters in the regions affected would have to approve the measure in a referendum. Citizens of Anne Arundel County and Baltimore not living in the area would not vote on the matter.
ASBESTOS BILL GAINS
A bill to keep alive thousands of lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers has won final approval without the emotional debate that accompanied passage of a similar law in 1990.
The Senate voted 41-6 yesterday to go along with amendments the House of Delegates added to the bill.
The measure was proposed by Governor Schaefer as an alternative to a bill he vetoed last year.
The issue arose after several asbestos lawsuits were dismissed by judges citing an obscure state law that requires claims resulting from a defect in a building to be filed within 20 years after the building was completed. Labor and local government groups responded last year by proposing a bill to remove the statute of limitations for asbestos suits, touching off a classic labor-vs.-industry confrontation.
The bill approved yesterday extends the limit to 38 years for property damage lawsuits and removes it entirely for personal injury actions.