Assembly Digest

ASSEMBLY DIGEST

March 04, 2005

Harrison, longest-serving black, returns to Assembly

Baltimore Del. Hattie N. Harrison - the longest-serving African-American in the history of the Maryland General Assembly - returned yesterday to Annapolis for her first day of the legislative session after recovering from back surgery.

On her return, House Speaker Michael E. Busch awarded Harrison the Casper R. Taylor Jr. Founder's Award for her service, which includes being the first African-American woman named as chairwoman of a standing committee.

With her tenure of 32 years, she surpassed Sen. Clarence W. Blount, who died in 2003, as Maryland's longest-serving African-American legislator.

"I'm not giving up, let me tell you," the 77-year-old Harrison said after accepting the award. "I'm so glad to be back to see you all."

House adds men to law banning slurs on chastity

The House of Delegates gave final approval yesterday to a measure that would change a law banning false and malicious statements about a woman's chastity, expanding it to apply to statements regarding men or women.

In a vote of 119-to-15, delegates approved the legislation proposed by Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg, a Northwest Baltimore Democrat. During the vote, Rosenberg was questioned about the need for the legislation, to which he responded with a smile, "it's an anachronism in the law."

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

House OKs collecting DNA samples from convicts

The House of Delegates yesterday approved a bill that would allow for the collection of DNA samples from a person convicted of a felony, fourth-degree burglary or breaking and entering into a vehicle - a measure that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. made one of his priorities.

Delegates passed the legislation 134-to-0. A measure similar to the House bill is being considered by the Senate.

Ehrlich's proposal is part of a growing trend by states to keep DNA samples of ex-offenders. All states have passed laws requiring DNA collection from certain sexual offenders, and most states also require other serious offenders to provide samples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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