House passes lobbyist disclosure bill

IN THE LEGISLATURE

March 11, 1995|By John A. Morris from Sun staff reports.

The House of Delegates yesterday rejected a measure that would have prohibited lobbyists from wining and dining lawmakers, voting instead to require full disclosure.

"We have heard time and time again that we are being bought and paid for with a lunch, a drink or a dinner," said Del. Leon G. Billings, a Montgomery County Democrat who proposed the ban. "Most of us know that is not true, but in politics, perception is the thing."

But Del. John S. Arnick, a Democrat from Dundalk, said approving an outright ban would be like "confessing you can be bought."

Mr. Arnick argued it is enough to require lobbyists to report the names of any lawmakers who accept meals and drinks and the amount spent.

That would close a loophole that allows lobbyists to spend tens of thousands of dollars entertaining lawmakers each year without having to name the recipients.

The House also voted to prohibit lobbyists and the people who hire them from giving legislators tickets to anything, including sports events and concerts. And it voted to ban gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers if the gift is worth more than $15.

The delegates are expected to send the proposal to the Senate next week.

Panel votes to postpone disliked emissions test

A Senate committee voted yesterday to spare Maryland drivers from an unpopular auto emissions test until surrounding states adopt similar regulations.

On a 6-5 vote, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved the proposal by Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Carroll County Republican.

Maryland had been scheduled to launch a new emissions test at the start of this year. It would have taken longer than the current test and featured more elaborate procedures, including a requirement that cars be put on a treadmill-like device.

But under pressure from irate motorists, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and legislative leaders agreed to delay the program 15 months. In the interim, under the proposal, motorists would be required only to take the old tailpipe test.

The House committee approved that compromise last week, but the Senate committee was not so compliant.

The committee's version of the bill would further postpone the new test until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved similar regulations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

Administration officials said the change would leave the state's air quality in the hands of other states.

And clean air advocates criticized the committee's action, noting that Maryland has some of the worst smog in the nation.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

If approved there, differences with the House bill will be resolved by a conference committee.

Senate votes to make body armor use a crime

The Senate took aim yesterday at the violent criminals who increasingly hide behind bulletproof vests.

The upper chamber unanimously approved Senate Bill 580, which would make the use of body armor during the commission of a violent crime a separate misdemeanor.

Supporters compare the measure to existing penalties for the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony or violent crime.

Supporters include the Baltimore police department and the State Police.

"When worn by [a] drug dealer or a murderer, soft body armor becomes an offensive tool," testified Gary McLhinney, president LTC of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3.

3' The measure now moves to the House.

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