Year 2000 bill promotes readiness, balances...


May 01, 1999

Year 2000 bill promotes readiness, balances interests

Having read the April 12 letter from two past presidents of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association ("Year 2000 bills don't protect the public"), I am concerned that there has been a misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of the Y2K legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly: the Year 2000 Commerce Protection Act.

Some have characterized this legislation as a "bankers" or "big business" bill. That is inaccurate.

The bill began in a Maryland Chamber of Commerce subcommittee that was composed of representatives of a broad spectrum of large and small businesses, as well as private individuals and local government officials seeking a remedy for the Y2K dilemma.

It seeks to protect individuals and businesses that have taken good faith steps to become Y2K-ready and indeed will encourage businesses to take such steps to qualify for its protection.

In a lawsuit, for example, a defendant must prove to the judge or jury that he implemented a coherent Y2K plan to qualify for the defense the bill affords. A business that takes a cavalier or slipshod approach to the problem will receive no protection.

What this bill does not do is equally important: It does not provide immunity; it does not apply to a product liability action against a manufacturer for wrongful death or personal injury, and it does not apply to worker's compensation claims.

The bill protects consumers when a business has failed to meet the standards of care the bill sets forth. It protects businesses if, and only if, they have exercised appropriate care.

Maryland needs to ensure we become Y2K-ready. This legislation provides incentives to make that happen.

Arthur D. Ebersberger, Annapolis

The writer is vice chairman of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Concealed weapons make citizens safer

To see that it would be a good idea to have a law in Maryland allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons, we need only look at the experience of the 31 states that have enacted concealed-carry laws.

Did crimes against persons go down? Yes. Did those carrying guns legally go on rampages and shoot innocents? No.

Would crimes against individuals go down if the liberals in Annapolis passed a concealed carry law? You bet.

Barry R. Cohen, Owings Mills

Oil industry needs time to produce cleaner fuels

The Sun's April 18 editorial "Cleaner gasoline, cleaner air" said the oil industry "objects" to the production of a low-sulfur gasoline. That is incorrect.

What the industry objects to is any law or regulation that requires production of a low-sulfur gasoline too quickly. Producing the sort of fuel used in California requires not only a substantial investment, but major changes in the refining process which take time to design and implement.

It took California nearly 20 years to develop its low-sulfur fuel. Yet the time frame being suggested to introduce such fuel in other parts of the country is closer to four years.

Your editorial implied that the oil industry is not willing to make investments for cleaner air. To the contrary, the industry has, at substantial cost, removed lead from gasoline and installed emissions-reduction equipment at our refineries and retail locations. These investments have contributed significantly to the major emissions reductions achieved since 1970.

The oil industry has made great strides in protecting the environment, and it will continue to do so if given appropriate consideration for time and cost.

J. Steven Wise, Baltimore

The writer is manager of government relations for Crown Central Petroleum Co.

Baltimore needs a leader of Kweisi Mfume's stature

I support the effort to draft Kweisi Mfume for mayor because he commands the national and international recognition that can help Baltimore and the metropolitan area move forward.

Mr. Mfume can motivate citizens to work on the problems the city faces and be an inspiration for our youth to be all they can be. Our neighborhoods need his leadership and vision.

Mr. Mfume has a record of accomplishment as a Congressman and NAACP president. When speaking for Baltimore, he would be heard throughout the country. His stature would be an asset as the city seeks to attract businesses and pursues other opportunities such as hosting the Olympic games.

No one can revitalize the city by himself, but in times of need, Baltimore should call upon its best to serve.

Pat Gorman, Baltimore

Mayor's race should focus on issues, not individuals

In all the efforts to draft Kweisi Mfume for mayor, including his endorsement by three former Baltimore mayors -- Thomas D'Alessandro, Clarence Burns and William Donald Schaefer -- have you heard one word about what policies Mr. Mfume would pursue?

Shouldn't we be considering the policy agenda more than the possible candidates?

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