Senate approves bill requiring agencies to provide...

Assembly Digest

March 13, 2002|By From staff reports

Senate approves bill requiring agencies to provide interpreters

The Maryland Senate passed a bill yesterday that would require state agencies to provide interpreters and translate their documents for clients who speak limited English.

The proposal, approved 34-12, seeks to help the growing population of non-English-speaking residents who seek state services. It would require agencies to provide interpreters and translate documents in any languages spoken by at least 3 percent of their clients.

The legislation goes to the House of Delegates. If approved, it would cost the state an estimated $1.5 million next year.

Changing date for reports on campaign finance OK'd

The Senate approved a bill yesterday that would move the reporting date for campaign finance reports from November to mid-January, allowing the public to know about money given to state officials just before the legislative session begins.

Advocates say the measure is necessary because some contributors make large donations on the eve of the session, when lawmakers may take up bills of interest to them. Under current law, those donations are not made public until seven months after the session ends. A study by Common Cause/Maryland found that some legislative leaders receive most of their contributions just before the session.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Michael J. Collins, a Baltimore County Democrat, was approved 37-8. It moves to the House of Delegates, where campaign finance reform legislation has often received stronger support than in the Senate.

Townsend urges limiting power to change sentences

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend urged a House committee yesterday to support legislation that would limit the power of judges to revise their sentences.

Maryland is one of a handful of states that permits judges to revise a sentence at any time - even years after it was imposed. That policy, said Townsend, doesn't sit well with the public. "The victims feel victimized twice," she said. "Once by the defendant, and then by a criminal justice system that they feel has not dealt with them in a straightforward way."

The bill being considered by the House Judiciary Committee would allow judges to change a sentence up to a year after imposing it.

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