Panel approves gun storage bill
A bill that requires Marylanders to store loaded guns out of FTC the reach of children passed its first hurdle yesterday.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 13-7 for the Schaefer administration bill that requires owners to store loaded guns in such a way that unsupervised children under age 16 can't gain access to them.
The bill originally had applied to children under 18, but the committee lowered the age as a compromise. It also took out a provision calling for jail time for violators, leaving only a maximum fine as penalty.
"The argument that grieving parents will be jailed is moot now," said supporter David S. Weaver, assistant director of Handgun Control in Washington. He said seven other states have similar laws.
James L. Milner, state liaison for the National Rifle Association, opposes the bill because he says it essentially forces all gun owners, even those without children, to lock up their loaded weapons.
Bob McMurray of the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association said the bill makes it harder for the law-abiding to reach their loaded guns when a criminal breaks into their home.
House OKs wagering on cruise ships
A bill that would allow gambling on international cruise ships in part of the Chesapeake Bay passed the House of Delegates yesterday, 84-43.
The bill, which supporters say would lure a half-dozen ships to the port of Baltimore, would permit gambling from the Francis Scott Key Bridge to the Virginia portion of the bay.
"If you can do this anywhere else in the world, why not in Maryland?" asked Del. John S. Arnick, D-Baltimore County, a proponent.
The bill now goes to the Senate. A Senate committee last year killed similar legislation after members expressed fears it would attract organized crime.
The Maryland State Police and the Schaefer administration oppose the bill, saying that form of gambling would attract criminals and money launderers.
Opponents also say the bill's licensing and enforcement provisions are weak.
"These are international ships. They belong to owners in other countries. The crews are nationals of other countries. The FBI has no files on the owner or the crews," said Del. Leon G. Billings, D-Montgomery. "This would put an enormous burden on the FBI to verify the background" of the applicant.
House approves end of 12-member panels
The House of Delegates yesterday approved a bill that would repeal Maryland citizens' historic right to 12-member juries in civil cases.
The bill allowing six-member juries in civil trials is a constitutional amendment that would only take effect if it is approved by voters in the general election next November. The proposal would not change the requirement for 12-member juries in criminal cases.
The bill was approved on a 104-7 vote in the House.
Opponents complained during debate last week that Maryland should not scrap the guarantee of every citizen to trial by 12 jurors.
The change was presented as a way to cut costs and help unclog civil courts by speeding up the jury selection process.
Today in Annapolis
10 a.m.: House and Senate convene, State House.
10:30 a.m.: Gov. William Donald Schaefer holds a news conference, State House.
1 p.m.: House Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee considers legislation involving quality of home instruction, Room House Office Building.
1 p.m.: Senate Finance Committee considers bill to permit state lottery agency to establish an electronic video lottery system, Presidential Wing, Senate Office Building.
4 p.m.: Baltimore Senate delegation holds hearing on measure to present city voters with a referendum on a proposed property tax increase, with proceeds going to Enoch Pratt Free Library branches, Room 400, Senate Office Building.
There are 40 days remaining in the 1992 General Assembly session.