Legislative Digest

February 07, 2003|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

House panel OKs effort to raise limit in small-claims court

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill last night that would increase the amount a person could sue for in small-claims court to $5,000.

The effort to increase the limit from $2,500 is part of a nationwide campaign to make small-claims court more accessible to consumers and small-business owners. Both the House and Senate approved identical legislation the past two years, but Gov. Parris N. Glendening vetoed it both times at the urging of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association.

The bill this year now goes to the full House. A similar measure is pending in a Senate committee.

Proposal seeks suspension of licenses in gas thefts

Motorists convicted of stealing gas from a service station could have their driver's license suspended for a month under a proposal approved yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee.

The legislation, which now goes to the full House, allows a judge to suspend the license for first-time offenders. The monthlong suspension becomes mandatory for offenders convicted a second time.

Del. Kevin Kelly, an Allegany County Democrat who sponsored the bill, said the legislation is intended to discourage teen-agers from stealing gas, which is commonly referred to as a "drive off."

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