65 mph limit advancesA Senate committee approved a bill...

CAPITAL MATTERS

April 05, 1991

65 mph limit advances

A Senate committee approved a bill yesterday that would raise the speed limit to 65 mph on 160 miles of Maryland's rural interstate divided highways, even though Gov. William Donald Schaefer has said he would veto the bill.

The Judicial Proceedings Committee passed the bill by a vote of 8 to 3. The bill would eliminate the current 55 miles per hour speed limit on most of Interstate 70 from Howard County to Western Maryland, Interstate 83 in northern Baltimore County and stretches of Interstate 95 in Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties.

The bill already has passed the House of Delegates.

Senate OK's PAC limits

The state Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday for legislation designed to stanch the flow of special interest campaign contributions and to reclaim public confidence in government.

The bill would limit political action committees to contributions of $8,000 or less per candidate during any four-year election cycle. Under current law, the sometimes well-financed PACs can write checks without limit in Maryland.

The House of Delegates has passed the same bill, but its version sets the PAC limit at $4,000, half the Senate figure. If the House does not concur with the Senate's higher PAC limit, supported by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Prince George's, the measure would go to a joint House-Senate committee for negotiation and compromise.

A second major election reform bill, this one aimed at removing lobbyists from fund raising, has passed the House and a Senate committee but has not yet reached the Senate floor.

Tax deadline for troops

Military personnel assigned to Operation Desert Storm will have up to six months extra to file 1990 Maryland income tax returns under emergency legislation enacted by the General Assembly and scheduled to be signed today by Governor Schaefer.

The state comptroller's office said no application for an extension or tax payment by the April 15 deadline is necessary. Taxpayers taking advantage of the extension should write "Desert Storm" at the top of their returns and under the return address on the envelope when filing after April 15.

The legislation gives military personnel 180 days, beginning with the date the individual left the combat zone, to file state income tax returns. It matches an extension provided by the federal government.

A special fact sheet for affected military personnel and their families may be obtained at any state income tax office, or by calling 225-1995 in the Baltimore area and 1-800-MD TAXES elsewhere in Maryland.

Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein issued a reminder that as much as $15,000 in active duty overseas pay may be excluded from state taxes on 1990 returns filed by Marylanders involved in Desert Storm.

Cruise ship gambling

Citing opposition by the Maryland State Police and Governor Schaefer, a Senate committee unanimously rejected yesterday a bill that would have permitted gambling on international cruise ships while those ships were in Maryland waters.

Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee said he agreed with Governor Schaefer's concern that the proposal might attract organized crime.

Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., D-Baltimore County, said he thought that there were valid reasons for the bill, designed to make the port of Baltimore more attractive to passenger cruise ships, but he agreed that it was too late in the legislative session to give the bill further consideration.

Cigarette machine ban

An effort to make it harder for minors to buy cigarettes from vending machines died in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday.

Sponsored by Sens. F. Vernon Boozer, R-Baltimore County, and Arthur Dorman, D-Prince George's, and supported by health organizations, the measure would have kept cigarette vending machines out of bowling alleys, skating rinks, video arcades and other places where youths tend to congregate.

The bill was strongly opposed by tobacco and vending machine interests.

The Senate first killed, then resurrected and passed the measure. But the House committee voted 17-6 against the bill. Delegate Tyras S. Athey, D-Anne Arundel, the chairman, said only a small percentage of cigarettes are sold through vending machines, yet the proposal could have jeopardized the jobs of drivers or others who work for vending machine companies.

Let's talk about it

South Baltimore residents may not get to secede and become part of Anne Arundel County, but they'll get a chance to talk about it some more under a bill approved by a Senate committee yesterday.

The original bill would have permitted a South Baltimore referendum on secession. The amended version establishes a task force to study the idea and report on it in December 1992.

One amendment, proposed by Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Anne Arundel, called for the executives of Baltimore and Anne Arundel County to appoint a task force to study the proposal. Mr. Jimeno said preliminary estimates are that it would cost his county $20 million to accept the South Baltimore neighborhoods.

Residents of the area including Curtis Bay, Fairfield and Brooklyn said they wanted to secede because Baltimore was using their

community for all sorts of industrial dumping.

Quote of the day

"They can kick us and they can discourage us . . . but we can get up again."

Governor Schaefer,

addressing a group of well-wishers who came to Annapolis yesterday to demonstrate their support for him in the face of recent criticism

Today

10 a.m.: House and Senate convene, State House.

House and Senate committees will hold bill hearings and voting sessions as they can be scheduled before, between or after floor sessions.

There are four days remaining in the 1991 General Assembly session.

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