The State Police, children's advocates and others urged lawmakers yesterday to adopt strict road safety measures that would, among other things, strengthen Maryland's seat belt law.
Senate Bill 254 would permit police to stop a motorist who is not wearing a seat belt. Currently, officers may issue tickets for seat belt violations only if they first stop motorists for other infractions.
Sen. Ida G. Ruben, a Montgomery County Democrat and the bill's sponsor, said 72 percent of those killed on Maryland roads last year were not wearing restraints. About a third of car passengers do not use seat belts, the state Department of Transportation says.
Another measure heard yesterday, Senate Bill 107, would require motorists to turn on their headlights whenever they use their windshield wipers.
"In poor weather, daylight use of headlights can save lives," said John Undeland, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association of Potomac.
City's schools seek evaluation changes
Baltimore school officials urged a House committee yesterday to require the state school board to consider urban problems such as poverty and crime when evaluating schools for potential takeover.
"It's not fair that schools with such severe challenges are singled out," Kevin O'Keeffe, a city schools lobbyist, told the House Ways and Means Committee.
A bill sponsored by Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, D-Baltimore, would require the state to establish new criteria for evaluating schools. Currently, officials look at test scores, attendance and dropout rates. And so far, the 2-year-old school reform effort has targeted only city schools for shake-up.
State Superintendent Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick told the panel that lowering standards for schools within the city would ultimately shortchange Baltimore's children.
Nevertheless, Del. Salima S. Marriott, D-Baltimore, said the action taken against five low-scoring city schools has stigmatized the communities involved.
Prostitutes targeted in Curtis Bay area
A Baltimore lawmaker is hoping to strike at the prostitutes who have invaded his Curtis Bay neighborhood by going after their customers' drivers licenses.
Del. Timothy D. Murphy, a Democrat, sought approval yesterday from the Commerce and Government Matters Committee for his proposal, House Bill 126.
Committee members expressed doubts that the measure would accomplish its goal, and it is not expected to win passage.