Schaefer laments House's handling of his legislation Committees' larger workload is blamed STATE HOUSE REPORT

February 26, 1993|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Staff Writer

The Schaefer administration is blaming the elimination of a committee for some of the difficulties in getting its legislative package approved in the House of Delegates.

David S. Iannucci, the governor's chief lobbyist, pointed in particular yesterday to an administration bill that would have had presumed fathers sign a document acknowledging paternity at the birth of their children.

The idea was to avoid court battles in any eventual child-support proceedings, but the bill was killed this month by the House Judiciary Committee.

"They voted the day after the hearing," Mr. Iannucci said. "That was a major mistake. They should have given it more consideration."

Mr. Iannucci said that such haste is due in part to the elimination of the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee, which was disbanded by the House leadership after last year's session.

There are now five standing committees in the House.

"Every committee is considering about 100 more bills than last year. But they have the same amount of days in the [90-day] session so they just don't spend as much time on each bill," Mr. Iannucci said.

"That's the first complaint I've heard," said House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., the Kent County Democrat who instituted the change. "I think he's just upset because he doesn't like what happened to some of his bills.

"From everything I've heard, the new committees are working smoothly," he said. "Their workload is not that much bigger. They just have to work a few more hours."

The observation came during a midseason review of the administration's legislative package, which is generally viewed as large and ambitious in a session when legislators burned out by recent battles over budget cuts are wary of wide-ranging initiatives. Yet Mr. Iannucci said it was too soon to predict the package's fate.

He said the administration hopes to get its bill on acknowledging paternity through the Senate in a form that will lead to reconsideration by the House.

Mr. Iannucci was hopeful that other child-support measures would be approved, especially those that would report delinquencies to credit agencies and allow the state to immediately withhold wages for support payments.

Legislation to establish a separate family court is being amended to make it a division of the Circuit Court, making it less costly and doing away with the need for a constitutional amendment, he said.

Mr. Iannucci was optimistic about a bill mandating low-emission vehicles, though if it passes, it will probably include a provision that will keep it from going into effect unless other states in the region pass similar laws.

He admitted that he was not surprised that committees in both chambers killed a measure that would have taken away a defendant's right to a de novo appeal -- an automatic request for a Circuit Court trial after the District Court verdict. He was disappointed that those committees also axed a proposal to take away the driver's license of underage drinkers.

Carjacking legislation has been passed by both chambers, but Mr. Iannucci said the administration strongly favors the Senate version that includes a 15-year minimum term for an armed carjacking.

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