Legislators to zero in on crime, stadium proposal

January 11, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll County legislators promise to be tough on crime and wary of Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke in the General Assembly session that begins tomorrow.

Legislators predict that the 1994 session will be a calm one, free of major budget cuts and controversies.

Three of the county's four delegates and one of its senators said they will introduce measures to deal with escalating crime.

Members of the Carroll delegation agreed that Mr. Cooke's plan to build a football stadium in Laurel will be a hot issue.

"It will be a political football," said Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore.

Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, is adamantly against the team moving to Maryland. He said he agreed with former Baltimore Colts star Art Donovan that "the Redskins are not the same" as the city's beloved Colts.

Mr. Dixon said he would vote against the state paying to build roads or other infrastructure if the Redskins move to Laurel.

The money should be used for schools and prisons, said Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, said he will not form an opinion on the issue until he knows how much the infrastructure for a Laurel stadium would cost.

Mr. Smelser, chairman of the capital budget subcommittee of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said he does not expect any deep cuts in programs, because the state's economy appears to be improving.

"I don't look for any insurmountable problems as far as finances are concerned," he said.

Del. Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, and Del. Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, said they expect legislators to continue talking about the problem of unfunded mandates -- laws the state enforces on counties and towns, but does not finance.

In the end, this year's legislative session will be an engaging one, Mr. Matthews predicted.

"It's going to be a busy one -- it's Gov. [William Donald] Schaefer's last hurrah," he said.

The following are short descriptions of measures that Carroll legislators said they will introduce or are considering:

SENATE

Sen. Larry E. Haines

* Spanking -- Change state law to say that the reasonable use of corporal punishment by a parent or grandparent is not considered child abuse. Residents have said they were accused of child abuse for spanking their children as a means of disciplining them, Mr. Haines said.

The senator withdrew such a bill last year at the request of Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil County. Mr. Haines said he will seek co-sponsors before reintroducing the bill.

* Religion -- Allow teachers to read or post historical writings or documents that mention religion or God, such as the national anthem, the Declaration of Independence and the pledge of allegiance, and prohibit removing religious references from textbooks.

The House Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee killed that bill early in the session last year. Mr. Haines said he will meet with teachers and others who support the bill next week before deciding whether to reintroduce it.

* Marijuana -- State law says a person cannot be charged with a felony for smuggling marijuana into Maryland unless it is 100 pounds or more. Mr. Haines wants to reduce that amount to 10 pounds.

* Minors and drugs -- Make it a felony for an adult to bring a minor into Maryland to sell drugs. The bill passed the Senate last year, but was defeated by a House committee.

* Drive-by shootings -- Allow a judge or jury to impose the death penalty on a gunman convicted of killing an innocent bystander in a drug-related case. The Senate passed the bill last year.

* Capital gains -- Reduce the tax on capital gains from 100 percent to 50 percent on investments held six months or longer.

For example, now if a resident buys a property for $50,000 and sells it five years later for $75,000, the capital gains tax would be calculated on $25,000. Mr. Haines proposes taxing 50 percent of the profit, or $12,500.

* Home improvement -- To have the state Home Improvement Commission regulate certain work on condominiums. A Hampstead woman requested the legislation after she discovered that the commission could not help her when a contractor did not finish work for which she had paid him, Mr. Haines said.

* Child-abuse reporting -- Require state social service employees to report a person who has made two or more false reports of child abuse. The bill, aimed at reducing false complaints, was voted down in the Judicial Proceedings Committee last year.

* Punitive damages -- Limit punitive damages in civil lawsuits to ,, twice the amount of compensatory damages, to reduce the cost health care, insurance and other services.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser

Mr. Smelser spends most of his time on budget issues and does not usually introduce many bills. He expects to introduce one bill this year, but said yesterday he could not reveal its content because it hasn't been written. He said he hopes to have it ready next week.

HOUSE

Del. Richard N. Dixon

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