Riding the Crime Bandwagon

January 13, 1994

Like many legislators, Carroll's state delegates and senators are mounting the anti-crime bandwagon. The members want to get tough by abolishing parole, increasing penalties for a variety of crimes and requiring mandatory life sentences for people convicted of three violent crimes. Their focus is understandable, given the public's current preoccupation with crime and the politicians' belief they can get a great deal of mileage out of the issue.

The delegation is not focusing on crime to the exclusion of other matters, though. Carroll's delegates and senators plan to introduce a variety of bills ranging from the regulation of child-abuse reporting to the elimination of preferential pricing for large purchasers of pharmaceuticals.

For the most part, the bills members plan to introduce constitute an eclectic collection. Del. Richard N. Dixon wants to require the election of all judges -- from District Court to the Court of Appeals. Del. Donald B. Elliott plans to introduce legislation that would require therapists to record or videotape all sessions with alleged victims of child abuse. A number of the bills are making return appearances after dying in the last session. Sen. Larry E. Haines may reintroduce bills that will allow parents to use corporal punishment to discipline their children and allow public school teachers to use materials referring to God and religion.

Even though the county's major legislative initiatives require General Assembly approval under the commissioner form of government, the commissioners are submitting only a short list this year. They will again attempt to obtain authority to conduct performance audits of the Board of Education. They also are seeking approval for a "right to farm" law as well a measure to create a commission for women's issues. In addition, the commissioners would like to appoint people to the county's economic development commission who are not on lists forwarded by civic and business groups.

Ironically, the fate of Carroll's residential state trooper program, which was of such concern last year, doesn't appear on the legislative agenda of either the delegation or the commissioners. This is ironic because the continuation of the residential trooper program probably relates more directly to dealing with crime than all the measures the legislators are offering.

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