Senate votes to block judges from easing mandatory...

Assembly Digest

March 16, 2001|By From staff reports

Senate votes to block judges from easing mandatory sentences

The state Senate unanimously approved a bill yesterday that would prohibit three-judge panels from decreasing the mandatory minimum sentences imposed for using handguns during felonies or crimes of violence.

Judicial panels have the authority to change the sentences of convicted inmates, though mandatory minimum sentences may not be decreased unless the panel's decision is unanimous. Of the more than 100 cases heard last year, six sentences were decreased. It's not clear how many of those involved mandatory minimum sentences, according to a legislative analysis.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Carroll County Republican, moves to the House Judiciary Committee, which killed a similar measure last year.

Bill banning job bias based on DNA clears committee

A proposal to ban job discrimination based on genetic information cleared a significant hurdle yesterday when it was approved by the Senate committee that killed the measure last year.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jennie M. Forehand, a Montgomery County Democrat, would bar employers from requiring genetic testing or information as a condition of hiring or determining benefits. They also could not discriminate based on genetic information.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved the bill 6-3. The House of Delegates unanimously approved an identical measure last month.

Armenian resolution passes Senate committee

The Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee passed a resolution yesterday to establish a state day of remembrance for thousands of Armenians who died nearly a century ago during the final days of the Ottoman Empire.

Sen. Perry Sfikas, a Baltimore Democrat and the bill's sponsor, said he hoped amendments would make it more acceptable to Turks. But he said he expects a tough fight on the Senate floor.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell urged a member of the House of Delegates this week to oppose the bill, saying that state legislation was not the place to solve the dispute between Turks and Armenians. The House has not voted on the bill.

Public financing proposal for state races defeated

A Senate committee voted yesterday to kill legislation that would have established a fund to provide public financing for General Assembly election campaigns.

It would have been established through contributions of no more than $100 that Marylanders could have added to their state tax returns.

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