Week In Review

January 14, 2007

Anne Arundel

Leopold proposes county smoking ban

Seeking to build momentum for a statewide smoking ban in bars and restaurants, Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold proposed Wednesday prohibiting smoking at county establishments as a way of promoting public health and boosting the local economy.

But the chairman of the County Council said he does not plan to introduce Leopold's measure, which is required for it to be considered, until after Maryland lawmakers take up the issue statewide.

"This action is in no way a statement of position regarding this bill," said County Council Chairman Ronald C. Dillon Jr., a Republican. "I respect County Executive Leopold's leadership and commitment to public health issues."

Leopold, a melanoma survivor who recently took office, acknowledged that the timing of his announcement - on the opening day of the General Assembly session - was aimed at encouraging legislators to pass a statewide ban.

"A ban would be a positive development," said Leopold, a former state legislator from Pasadena. "Perhaps my pronouncement will be helpful in enacting a statewide ban. That would be my hope."

Five counties in Maryland have enacted such bans - Montgomery, Prince George's, Talbot, Charles and Howard - and Baltimore City officials have been considering such a move. A smoking ban went into effect this month at bars and restaurants in Washington.

Maryland section, Thursday

Anne Arundel

Legislators look to Leopold for agenda

As Anne Arundel County's new legislative delegation began work Wednesday with the start of the General Assembly session, the 20 local lawmakers were looking to a former colleague to set the agenda. County Executive John R. Leopold, who was elected in November, is making a renewed push to enact reforms on two issues he long championed as a state delegate: the school board selection process and panhandling.

"I am pleased to note that I am still a legislator," Leopold, a former five-term state delegate, said with a chuckle. With the complexion of the General Assembly much altered - Anne Arundel has nine new legislators - Leopold will play a prominent role as lawmakers get to know each other and the county's delegation decides on what issues to rally around.

Leopold, who has spoken with several legislators, will outline his priorities in a meeting with the delegation Friday. Key issues facing the county include building on the $19 million in state school construction dollars that the county has secured and finding funding for infrastructure improvements around Fort Meade, especially Route 175, and for tackling storm water runoff.

Maryland section, Wednesday

Annapolis

Tougher regulations on sprinklers sought

Less than three weeks after a fire scorched a downtown Annapolis business that did not have a sprinkler system, two city council members are pushing for tougher regulations.

Alderman David H. Cordle Sr., a Ward 5 Republican, introduced at Monday's council meeting a bill that would require sprinkler systems in all new homes and structures that switch uses or undergo major renovations. He said the requirement would save lives and reduce fire damage.

"It's a great idea because it's like having a firefighter in every room," Cordle said. "People say the drawback is the expense, but savings are realized with insurance."

According to the city's figures, cost estimates are about $7,500 for a 3,000-square-foot house. The bill would apply to structures with building permit requests made after Sept. 30, 2006.

Prince George's, Montgomery and Carroll are among counties with similar legislation. Statewide, sprinklers are required in new townhouses and apartment buildings.

Anne Arundel section, Wednesday

Anne Arundel

Man gets life in murder case

A former handyman found guilty of first-degree murder in his fifth trial was sentenced Monday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Judge Philip T. Caroom followed the recommendation of the state's attorney's office in sentencing Albert G. Givens, 52, who was convicted last month of killing Arnold resident Marlene Kilpatrick, 55.

It was the third time Givens had received this sentence for bludgeoning and fatally stabbing his friend's mother in her home.

Givens was sentenced in 1993 to life in prison and served nearly six years before a judge voided his conviction, ruling Givens' attorneys bungled the case. Givens' trial in 2003 ended in a hung jury. He was convicted again in 2004 and sentenced to life without parole, but an appellate court overturned that decision.

At Givens' fourth trial, in April 2006, Kilpatrick's daughter testified that Givens had made an unwelcome pass at her mother, something she did not know firsthand. The judge declared a mistrial.

Maryland section, Tuesday

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