Major Issues Before The General Assembly State House Report

March 22, 1993

Here's the status of major issues pending before the 1993 General Assembly:

AIDS: Both the House and Senate have killed Schaefer administration legislation that would have required doctors and laboratories to report the names of people infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

BALTIMORE CONVENTION CENTER:

House and Senate committees have not yet acted on the governor's proposed $150 million expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center.

BUDGET: The House of Delegates has approved a $12.5 billion budget for fiscal 1994. It would limit growth of spending to 2.5 percent by trimming $220 million from the governor's original proposal. The measure also would withhold $4.8 million in aid to Baltimore schools unless city officials agree to implement a consultant's recommendations. The Senate budget committee last week approved its version of the budget, which would trim $208 million from the governor's proposal. It would not withhold money from Baltimore schools. The committee's plan will be presented this week to the full Senate, which may amend it before giving final approval. Then a conference committee will resolve differences between the House and Senate measures.

CALIFORNIA CARS: A Senate committee has approved a bill that would require low-emission cars to be sold in Maryland, but only if enough neighboring states do the same. Similar legislation is pending in a House committee.

CARJACKING: The Senate has passed legislation making carjacking a separate crime punishable with a mandatory 15-year sentence. The House has passed similar legislation, but requiring a nonmandatory sentence of up to 30 years. A conference committee will decide the outcome.

CHILD SUPPORT: Both the House and Senate have passed legislation to require that parents who fail to make child-support payments be reported to credit agencies, and to make it easier for judges to order wage withholding for the payment of child support. The Senate bill goes further. In some cases, children would have to be included in the noncustodial parent's health insurance coverage. And unmarried fathers would be required to sign affidavits declaring their paternity. A conference committee will try to resolve the differences in the House and Senate bills.

GAMBLING REGULATION: The House last week approved a bill that would set up a commission to regulate a variety of gambling, including slot machines, casino nights, "tip jars" and commercial bingo parlors. The bill now goes to the Senate.

GUNS: Schaefer administration bills to ban assault pistols and increase regulation of weapons sold at gun shows are pending in committees in both houses.

HEALTH CARE REFORM: The House has passed legislation designed to make health insurance more available and affordable, primarily to employees of small companies. The bill also would create a state commission to collect data on physician fees and procedures, to limit insurance company profits and to cap physician fees if appropriate. A Senate committee is considering the House bill as well as other proposals to reform health care.

INSURANCE REGULATION: The House has passed legislation that would increase regulation of Maryland-based insurance companies and raise $4.8 million in fees from the industry to pay for it. The legislation is pending in a Senate committee.

KENO: The House rejected a Senate effort to outlaw keno. So the State Lottery can continue to run its new electronic game.

NORPLANT: The House has approved the governor's plan to spend $1 million for Norplant, condoms and vasectomies for low-income state residents. A Senate committee also has endorsed the plan, which now will be taken up by the full Senate.

REORGANIZATION: The proposal by House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. to reorganize state government has been reduced to one bill. It would essentially eliminate the Department of Personnel by merging it into the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning. But it is not expected to win passage.

SCHOLARSHIPS: Though the House passed legislation to end Maryland's $7 million-a-year legislative scholarship program, a Senate committee killed the bill.

VOUCHERS:

The governor's proposal to offer $2,900 vouchers to 200 low-income Baltimore youngsters for tuition at other schools, including private schools, appears to be dead. The House removed the program from its budget proposal, and the Senate is expected to do the same.

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