Legislative Digest

LEGISLATIVE DIGEST

March 25, 2003|By From staff reports

National drug czar, Cummings against marijuana bill

The White House drug czar and U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings announced yesterday that they oppose efforts in the General Assembly to reduce penalties for terminally ill patients who use marijuana as medicine.

John P. Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy, said the legislation would mean "more availability of a dangerous drug in our neighborhoods." Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said there is little scientific evidence that marijuana can be used as a medicine.

The House of Delegates passed a proposal this month creating a maximum $100 fine for patients caught with marijuana. A Senate committee passed the same proposal last week.

State juvenile justice plan gets approval, needs funds

A key piece of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s plan to reform the state's juvenile justice program was approved yesterday by the House -- but the legislature is so far refusing to pay for the changes.

The proposal switches the name of the Department of Juvenile Justice to the Department of Juvenile Services. It also puts the state Board of Education in charge of juveniles at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, which now uses a private vendor.

The change is contingent on the legislature restoring $7.5 million earmarked for the Department of Education that the House and Senate cut from the governor's budget.

Bill speeding recognition of tribes passes in House

A bill to speed the process under which Maryland recognizes Indian tribes overwhelmingly passed the House yesterday.

The measure -- passed 115-17 -- has long been sought by the Piscataway Conoy Confederacy and Subtribes, among other groups. The bill would set deadlines for action by the governor on requests for state recognition.

House OKs charter school plan for private groups

The House passed a measure yesterday that would allow private groups to establish charter schools, but a compromise still needs to be worked out with the Senate and the governor.

The House voted 99-30 for the bill, which says local school boards could allow charter schools if they follow state regulations. The Senate passed a similar proposal last week.

Job discrimination plan would expand civil rights

The House approved a bill yesterday that would prohibit businesses -- including religious groups -- from discriminating against applicants for jobs funded with state money based on sexual orientation, genetic information or disabilities.

By a vote of 76-53, delegates moved to expand Maryland's civil rights laws, which prohibit discrimination in state procurement contracts on the basis of sex, race, creed, age, color or national origin.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

President Bush appoints Ehrlich to advisory panel

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has been appointed by President Bush to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, the White House announced yesterday.

The 30-member panel advises the president on the security of information systems that support sectors of the economy.

The council is also charged with enhancing security cooperation between private companies and the government.

House endorses expansion of deer hunting season

The House endorsed yesterday expanding Maryland's deer hunting season to include Sundays.

In a 77-55 vote, the House approved a bill that would permit deer hunting on up to six Sunday's this year, except in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The bill, which requires hunters to first receive written permission from landowners, now goes to the Senate.

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