House OKs bill to let police ticket motorists who shun...

Assembly Digest

March 28, 1997|By From staff reports

House OKs bill to let police ticket motorists who shun seat belts

The House of Delegates gave final approval yesterday to legislation that will allow police to stop and ticket Maryland motorists who are not wearing seat belts.

Current law allows police officers to ticket a driver or front-seat passenger only if they have stopped the car for another violation, such as speeding. Supporters of the measure say the tougher law could boost seat belt use from 70 percent to 85 percent.

The bill goes to the governor, who has said he will sign it into law.

Senate passes bill easing appeals of HMO decisions

The Senate voted 46-0 yesterday to make it easier for patients to appeal to the state when their health maintenance organization refuses to pay for a medical stay or procedure.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John C. Astle, an Anne Arundel Democrat, would direct the attorney general's office to help HMO customers prepare appeals to their insurer. If an appeal is denied, the patient could turn to the state insurance commissioner, who would set up panels to resolve such disputes.

Similar legislation has passed the House. The two bills differ slightly, but supporters predict they will be resolved before the session ends April 7.

House passes bill to let drivers shield MVA records

The House of Delegates gave final approval yesterday to a bill that would let Maryland drivers shield their Motor Vehicle Administration records from some private agencies and the general public.

The bill is a response to a federal law that would have shut off virtually all public access to MVA records as of September. MVA records are available to the public.

Lawmakers made exemptions for creditors, insurers and law enforcement authorities. But they denied access to such groups as telephone solicitors and, in most cases, the news media. The bill goes to Gov. Parris N. Glendening for his signature.

Bill would require licensing of mental health counselors

The state Senate passed a bill yesterday that would require therapists known as mental health counselors to be licensed to practice in Maryland. The vote was 36-10.

During hearings, some counselors said insurers -- particularly health maintenance and managed care organizations -- don't want to cover their services because they aren't regulated.

Professional counselors can receive state certification but are not required to do so. The bill goes to the House of Delegates.

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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