Legislative Digest

LEGISLATIVE DIGEST

April 07, 2005

Limits OK'd on putting Asian oysters in bay

Limits to the Ehrlich administration's ability to introduce Asian oysters into the Chesapeake Bay received final passage from the legislature yesterday. The measure still requires approval by the governor, who has said he wants to introduce non-native oysters if scientific research shows that doing so wouldn't harm the ecosystem.

The bill would require the Department of Natural Resources to take additional steps, including doing further environmental impact studies, getting a recommendation from an independent advisory panel, submitting a report to the General Assembly and holding public hearings, before allowing the introduction of the oysters. Both the houses passed the bill with sufficient votes to override a veto.

@SUBHEDSenate appears ready to approve hate-crimes bill

The General Assembly is poised to adopt legislation protecting those with different sexual identities from hate crimes, despite opposition from social conservatives who fear the statute could be used to prosecute people expressing legitimate religious views.

The House of Delegates has passed the measure, and the Senate rejected yesterday more than a dozen proposed amendments that would have protected religious expression and added several other classes of people to the protected list. Final passage could come by the end of the week.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, a Frederick County Republican, offered 11 amendments, all of which failed by lopsided votes as other senators argued that the people Mooney was trying to protect were either covered by other areas of law or were not frequent targets of hate crimes.

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