Bill to toughen penalties for repeat drunken drivers...

ASSEMBLY DIGEST

March 26, 2002|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Bill to toughen penalties for repeat drunken drivers OK'd

Repeat drunken drivers would face tougher penalties under legislation approved last night by the House of Delegates.

The bill, approved 137-1, requires at least a one-year driver's license suspension for people convicted of a second drunken-driving violation within a five-year period. For three to 12 months after the suspension, they could drive only cars equipped with ignition interlock systems that check their sobriety. They also would face a minimum penalty of five days in jail or 30 days of community service.

The Senate has approved a slightly different set of tougher penalties. The chambers will need to resolve their differences for the legislation to win final passage.

House, Senate OK raising ex-governors' pensions

The Senate and House approved bills last night to raise the pensions of retired governors by linking them to the salary of the current governor, virtually assuring final passage.

Current Maryland pension law calls for retired governors to receive a portion of their annual salary from their final year in office. One-term governors receive one-third, while two-term governors receive half.

The legislation would increase the pensions for former governors to $67,500 next year and $75,000 in four years, when the governor's salary will increase to $150,000. The biggest immediate boost would be to former Gov. Marvin Mandel, whose benefits would increase from $32,996. The House approved the measure 102-29, and the Senate voted 34-12. To receive final approval, one chamber must pass the other's bill, but that is considered a formality.

Plan passes to restructure Pr. George's school board

Prince George's County's elected school board would be replaced in the fall under legislation approved last night by the House of Delegates.

Under the bill, approved 90-33, the county board would be composed of five elected members and four appointed ones. The board has come under severe criticism, especially for its efforts to fire the superintendent.

The measure goes to the Senate, where there is not yet a consensus among county senators about what to do with the board. The House has approved a budget amendment to withhold $34 million from county schools if the General Assembly fails to pass legislation to restructure the board.

House narrowly approves anti-terrorism legislation

The House narrowly approved legislation yesterday aimed at helping the state crack down on terrorism.

The measure would give state officials expanded wiretapping authority and create definitions for new state terrorism crimes. The bill, approved 76-63, prompted a passionate floor debate about protecting civil liberties. Many of the House's most conservative and liberal members joined in opposition.

The Senate has passed a significantly different anti-terrorism bill. The two chambers would need to work out their differences for the legislation to win final passage.

Bill giving protections to guardsmen gets OK

The House of Delegates unanimously approved a bill last night to give Maryland National Guard troops called up by the governor the same protections granted under federal law to troops called up by the president.

The legislation would make clear that a guardsman activated by the governor cannot be fired from a civilian job. The bill, crafted in wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, also would establish a death benefit for the families of troops killed while serving the state.

The Senate has approved similar legislation, and final passage is expected.

House OKs bill toughening penalties for identity theft

The House overwhelmingly approved legislation yesterday that would toughen the penalties for fraud and identity theft.

The measure, sponsored by Del. Carol S. Petzold, a Montgomery Democrat, would make it illegal to create false identifications. It also would expand the crime of fraud for possessing or using other people's personal information.

Supporters of the bill say the explosion of personal information on the Internet has made it easier for thieves to commit fraud and other crimes. The legislation goes to the Senate.

Delegates pass proposal for interpreters at agencies

The House passed a bill last night that would require state agencies to provide interpreters and translate their documents for clients who speak limited English.

The proposal, approved 135-3, seeks to help the growing population of non-English-speaking residents who seek state services. It would require agencies to provide interpreters and translate vital documents in any languages spoken by at least 3 percent of their clients.

A similar bill has been approved by the Senate. The two chambers must resolve minor differences.

House OKs bill raising age for car booster seats

The House approved legislation yesterday that would require children to ride in car booster seats until age 6. The bill, passed 115-20, would apply only to cars registered in Maryland.

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