Eastern Shore, Balto. Co. lawsuits fight redistricting...

ASSEMBLY DIGEST

March 16, 2002|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Eastern Shore, Balto. Co. lawsuits fight redistricting

Lawmakers and residents from Baltimore County and the Eastern Shore filed a pair of challenges to the governor's legislative redistricting map yesterday, bringing to six the number of suits against the plan.

A Dundalk-based lawsuit contends that the map is "Balkanizing Baltimore County" in disregard of state constitutional requirements. It was filed by Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., Dels. John S. Arnick and Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick, Baltimore County Councilman John A. Olszewski Sr., and J. Ronald DeJulius and Connie Galiazzo DeJulius. Stone, Arnick and Minnick, all Democrats, could lose their offices if the redistricting plan stands.

The Eastern Shore lawsuit was filed by Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, former Sen. Lewis R. Riley and John W. Tawes, grandson of former Gov. J. Millard Tawes. They argue that Somerset County should not be separated from its traditional "close union" with Worcester and Wicomico counties. Initial arguments on all lawsuits are scheduled for April 11 before the Maryland Court of Appeals.

State Senate approves bill on charter schools

The Maryland Senate approved a bill yesterday aimed at spurring competition in public schools by creating the state's first charter school law.

Charter schools are public schools run by groups or institutions under contracts that give them public funding, as well as freedom from some regulations. Typically, they hire their own teachers and pick their own instructional programs, but their charters can be revoked if student achievement doesn't improve.

The bill, approved 40-1 yesterday, would allow charter schools to be established by local school boards or the state school board. Both the House and Senate passed charter school bills last year, but the chambers could not resolve their differences. A House charter school bill is waiting for a vote in committee.

Senate OKs plan to create campaign finance panel

The Senate approved legislation yesterday to create a commission to study the public financing of General Assembly campaigns.

The House approved an identical bill Thursday, and the governor is expected to sign the bill into law.

Advocates hope the commission will study the influence of campaign contributors on Maryland lawmakers and recommend reform models. It is to report back to the Assembly and governor by the end of the year.,

Panel kills measure to restructure Pratt board

A Senate committee has killed a bill that was designed to restructure the Enoch Pratt Free Library's board of directors.

The bill, proposed by Sen. Ralph M. Hughes, a Baltimore Democrat, would have changed the library's 120-year-old system of appointing the trustees from within and instead have set up an external nominating committee.

Hughes introduced the legislation after Baltimore residents raised concerns about the current board's recent decision to close five city library branches. The Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee rejected the bill yesterday.

In Annapolis

Today's highlights

9 a.m. House Appropriations Committee, work session on the state budget for next year, Room 130, Lowe House Office Building.

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