House OKs improved state pension benefits for workers, 0...

Assembly Digest

March 31, 1998

House OKs improved state pension benefits for workers, 0) teachers

By an overwhelming margin of 109-9, the House of Delegates approved yesterday election-year legislation that would significantly improve the pension benefits of thousands of state employees and teachers.

The measure, which is backed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, goes to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain.

The bill, HB 987, would increase the state's cost of funding the pensions by about $167 million a year, or about $3 billion over the next two decades. It also would require employees to contribute 2 percent of their salaries, the first required employee contribution.

Bill to aid conversion of office space clears House

A bill that would allow the state housing department to help finance the conversion of office and commercial space to residential housing cleared the House of Delegates yesterday on a vote of 125-3.

The bill goes to the Senate.

The legislation would establish a loan fund for office conversions if buildings meet various criteria.

House approves measure on children's welfare

A proposal to emphasize children's welfare over attempts to reunite families cleared the House of Delegates yesterday.

The bill, which would make it quicker and easier to remove children from abusive homes, passed 131-0. But it differs significantly on several key points from the version endorsed by the Senate. One Senate provision, which House members oppose, would terminate parental rights if the parent has not contacted a young child for six months in foster care.

The legislation, which brings Maryland in line with new federal provisions, goes a step further by spelling out that the child's safety must come first. The two bills are likely to go to conference committee.

Physicians win in House as prescription bills lose

Physicians won two rounds in the medical turf wars yesterday as the House of Delegates defeated attempts to extend authority over prescriptions to physicians' assistants and pharmacists.

Lawmakers voted 66-62 to reject a bill that would have let physicians' assistants write prescriptions under the close supervision of medical doctors. The bill failed despite assurances from Del. Dan K. Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat and a physician, that the bill contained adequate safeguards and left legal responsibility with doctors.

Delegates followed that vote with a more decisive rejection of a bill that would have let doctors delegate a broad range of medical responsibilities to pharmacists under collaborative agreements. The measure went down to a 90-32 defeat after the two physicians in the House spoke against it.

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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