Legislative Digest

LEGISLATIVE DIGEST

General Assembly 2009

March 18, 2009

House OKs taking gun with protective orders

The House of Delegates passed two measures yesterday that would take guns from the subjects of protective orders. Supporters, including Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, say the bills help protect victims of domestic violence, but some lawmakers said the measures were nothing more than a "gun grab." One bill would enable judges to order subjects of temporary protective orders, which last seven days and are granted without hearing from the accused, to turn over their guns. The other would require a judge to take the guns in the case of final protective orders, which last a year and come after a hearing at which the petitioner and respondent tell their stories. In both cases, weapons would be returned to their owners when the orders expire. "Taking guns out of the hands of abusers is a common-sense measure that will protect victims and save lives," said Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who testified in favor of the measures and whose cousin was shot to death last summer by an estranged boyfriend. A Senate committee heard testimony on the bills last month but has not voted.

Julie Bykowicz

Senate approves ban on texting while driving

The Maryland Senate gave final approval yesterday to a prohibition on reading or sending text messages while driving. The bill would make violations a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $500. It would be a primary offense, meaning police would be able to pull over drivers solely on suspicion of texting. The legislation must also clear the House of Delegates, which could approve a different version of the plan. If so, differences would have to be resolved by a select committee of negotiators before the General Assembly session ends April 13. Senators voted 43-4 in favor of the ban, with Democrat John Astle and Republicans Alex Mooney, Janet Greenip and E.J. Pipkin voting "no." Mooney called the proposal "bad policy." Maryland now prohibits texting while driving only for young motorists with restricted licenses.

Gadi Dechter

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