The House voted Thursday to curtail the power of the state's 47 senators to appoint notary publics. Appointment of notaries adds to the power of incumbency, giving the senators, among other things, wider name recognition, critics say.
"It's just one more perk to guarantee the election of an incumbent that doesn't have to be there," said House Minority Leader Robert H. Kittleman, a Howard County Republican and the bill's sponsor.
Notaries are appointed by the governor, but each senator also must decide on applicants in his or her district. Maryland has 80,798 notaries, whose primary duty is to act as unbiased witnesses to legal documents.
House Bill 643, approved 120-4, would take approval power from senators, leaving the appointments to the governor.
OC The bill now moves to the Senate, where opposition is expected.
Songwriter testifies on royalties bill
John Sebastian, a singer-songwriter with the Lovin' Spoonful, a 1960s rock group, serenaded lawmakers Thursday with snatches of hits he has written over the past three decades.
He was one of several songwriters and artists who testified before the House Economic Matters Committee in opposition to a bill that would regulate the collection of royalties from restaurants, bars and other businesses that play copyrighted tunes.
Mr. Sebastian said the measure, House Bill 533, is an attempt to "hobble" agents from collecting the royalties, which he called "my livelihood."
"If my songs help create a mood or ambience in your restaurant, is it not fair that I receive the few pennies that it generates?" Mr. Sebastian, 50, asked.
Maryland restaurant and bar owners said they do not mind paying royalties, but called the practices of the three national collection agencies unfair.
Bill would allow doctor-assisted suicides
Roy R. Torcaso, who is 80 and has cancer, urged lawmakers last week to approve a measure that would allow his doctor to help him commit suicide.
"I do not like pain, and I do not want to suffer in the end stage of my life," the Wheaton man testified Wednesday before the House Environmental Matters Committee. Opponents of the measure, House Bill 933, argued that suicide is morally wrong and that other alternatives can make an ill person's final days enjoyable.
But the bill contains safeguards, said Del. Dana Lee Dembrow, a Montgomery County Democrat and the measure's sponsor. The bill would require that two doctors certify that a patient has less than six months to live. The patient must explicitly request help in dying on two occasions at least two weeks apart.