Bill meant to stop privatization of fire, EMS services is killed

March 25, 1998|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

A bill designed to stop the privatization of local fire or rescue services in Maryland has effectively been killed in the House of Delegates.

With no debate, the House on a voice vote sent the legislation back to a committee that had approved it last week.

The measure would have required a local government that wanted to privatize fire or rescue services to submit the matter to voters first. County officials strongly opposed the legislation.

Del. John F. Wood Jr., acting chairman of the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee, which approved the bill last week, said he asked for the measure to go back to the panel after hearing many complaints.

"I've had a number of people come to me with amendments, so we brought it back to committee to look at it," said the St. Mary's County Democrat.

But one of the bill's co-sponsors, Del. James E. Malone Jr., said the House action doomed the legislation.

"I still say it's a good bill," said Malone, a Baltimore County Democrat. "In this state right now, people are trying to privatize the fire and EMS services. The bill would let the people decide before that happens."

Among those supporting the bill were firefighters unions, which are against hiring private companies to put out fires or provide emergency medical services. Those opposing the bill included private ambulance companies interested in doing business in Maryland.

Pub Date: 3/24/98

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