State Digest

May 18, 2007

O'Malley OKs buying new voting system

Maryland would scrap its $65 million electronic voting system and replace it with machines that have a paper record under a bill signed yesterday by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The new system, estimated to cost $18 million to $20 million, is aimed at ensuring the integrity of elections and avoiding a repeat of the voting machine problems during last fall's primary.

If funding is approved, the machines could be ready for the 2010 election.

O'Malley also signed a measure that would allow voters to decide in 2008 whether to allow early voting at a limited number of polling places.

The election-related measures were among 164 bills that O'Malley signed into law yesterday at his final bill-ceremony since the end of the 2007 General Assembly session.

One bill signed into law would end parole for child sex offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences, a measure known as "Jessica's Law." The measure is named for Jessica Lunsford, a Florida girl who was kidnapped, sexually abused and killed by a previously convicted child sex offender. O'Malley also signed legislation that would allow for tougher penalties for gang members who commit certain crimes.

A package of juvenile justice reform bills signed by O'Malley will, among other things, reorganize the Department of Juvenile Services to offer more targeted programs to troubled youths. Another measure would expand the monitoring of juvenile residential facilities and require timely reports on their conditions. The moves follow the death of a Baltimore youth at Bowling Brook, a privately run detention center that was shut down in March.

The O'Malley administration has put $26 million into improving the juvenile system and is building the state's first secure treatment facility in decades.

O'Malley didn't OK everything. He vetoed a bill that, starting in 2010, would have broken Prince George's County Board of Education into nine, single-member districts. Citing an opinion from the attorney general, the governor wrote that the proposed districts violated the one person, one-vote requirement under the 14th Amendment and were unconstitutional.

He also vetoed a measure that would have kept open unattended motor fuel stations in marinas at Dorchester and Talbot counties. In an explanation for his veto, O'Malley said keeping the fuel stations open would leave the Maryland waterways vulnerable to oil spills.

Ruma Kumar

Anne Arundel

: Annapolis

Ships named for academy grads

Two of the Navy's newest ships will be named for Naval Academy graduates, including a former academy superintendent.

Navy Secretary Donald Winter announced Wednesday that an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be named the USS Spruance. Adm. Raymond A. Spruance was born in 1886 in Baltimore and graduated from Annapolis in 1906, according to a Navy news release.

As an admiral commanding a task force at the Battle of Midway in 1942, he is credited with leading the U.S. to a decisive victory over a Japanese task force. He later held command of the Pacific Fleet and served as president of the Naval War College. He died in 1969. An older USS Spruance, commissioned in 1975, was sunk off the Virginia coast after it was decommissioned in 2005.

A second Burke-class destroyer will bear the name USS William P. Lawrence in honor of the late vice admiral. Lawrence, a native of Nashville, was a member of the Naval Academy's class of 1951 and became an aviator. He was the first naval aviator to fly at twice the speed of sound. He served in Vietnam, where he spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war and was noted for his resistance to his captors.

He served four years as superintendent of the academy, starting in 1978. Lawrence died in December 2005.

Associated Press

Washington Co.

: Hagerstown

Woman wanted in Va. arrested

A woman on the lam since her indictment in 2001 has been caught and returned to Virginia to face charges of prostitution and crimes against nature, police say.

Patricia Helen Meehan, 55, is charged with keeping a bawdy house and manufacturing marijuana, said Bill Kennedy, spokesman for the Stafford County, Va., Sheriff's Office.

Meehan was arrested May 8 in Hagerstown by Maryland State Police troopers, The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail reported Thursday. She was being held without bond at the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford, the newspaper reported.

Kennedy said the 2001 indictment stemmed from an investigation that began after police received complaints from some of her neighbors in Stafford. Police found a Web site for "Mistress Jesse, D.C.'s Hottest Domina," that they linked to her, he said.

When police searched Meehan's home, they found bondage instruments and sexual aids, Kennedy said.

Associated Press

Carroll County

: Woodstock

Secret Service agent arrested

A Secret Service agent from Carroll County was arrested and charged with driving under the influence during a three-day weekend commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, authorities in Virginia said.

John M. Bozzuto, 47, of Woodstock, was arrested shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday, York-Poquoson sheriff's spokesman Mike Russell said.

Bozzuto was released on $2,500 bond, according to jail officials.

Associated Press

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