Panel kills bill to require reporting of those who carry AIDS virus STATE HOUSE REPORT

March 06, 1993|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Staff Writer

The Schaefer administration's drive to get the names of people carrying the virus that causes AIDS was rejected by a 6-5 vote in a state Senate committee yesterday.

The Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee turned down the measure, which would have required doctors and laboratories to report the names of people who test positive for HIV to the state health department.

In testimony before the committee, health department officials had argued that they need those names -- which would be kept in confidence -- to plan efforts to combat the deadly virus.

But a number of doctors and other AIDS activists said reporting names would discourage people from getting tested out of fear that their names would be revealed.

The vote came despite last-minute efforts to come up with a compromise measure. Aides to the governor thought that the committee would delay action while considering an administration proposal that would keep the requirement for name reporting but expand the availability of totally anonymous testing.

But Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, D-Baltimore County, said that the health subcommittee she chairs had voted down the proposal 3-2.

"We met several times yesterday and tried to find a compromise," Ms. Hollinger told the full committee. "But we failed. I think it is time to vote up or down on the bill."

The vote was tied when it went to committee Chairman Clarence W. Blount. The Baltimore Democrat hesitated several minutes before casting the final vote to kill the measure.

Administration lobbyists were clearly disappointed that the vote was taken yesterday.

"We thought there was a process of negotiation taking place," said Bonnie A. Kirkland of the governor's legislative office. "It was our understanding that that process was going to be allowed to continue. We never heard back about our last proposal which was just made this morning."

The bill has yet to be voted on by the House Environmental Matters committee. One possible tactic considered by the administration is to try to get a compromise measure through the House and hope that the Senate would agree to consider that bill.

This is the second year that Gov. William Donald Schaefer has sought a name-reporting requirement. Last year, legislators instructed the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to come up with a coding system that would allow the department to get the information it needed about those carrying HIV without getting their names.

But department officials told the legislature this session that they cannot devise such a coding system -- known as a unique identifier -- that will yield accurate data.

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