Dwyer reassigned to new committee

January 10, 2013|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr., who faces alcohol-related charges in a powerboat crash off Pasadena that injured him and six others last August, has been moved off the House committee that handles legislation involving drunken driving and boating.

Dwyer, an Anne Arundel County Republican,  said House Speaker Michael E. Busch reassigned him to the Ways and Means Committee. He previously served on the Judiciary Committee. New House committee assignments are expected to be announced Friday.

Dwyer, 54, was charged  by Maryland Natural Resources Police last month with operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, reckless operation of a vessel, negligent operation of a vessel, failing to register his boat and a rules-of-the-road violation.

Howard County prosecutors said Thursday that Dwyer's trial is scheduled May 14. The  Anne Arundel County state’s attorney sought an outside prosecutor because two of Dwyer's House colleagues,  Anne Arundel Del. Ted Sophocleus and Baltimore Del. Luke H. Clippinger, work in that  office.

Dwyer, who faces a possible year in jail and up to $1,940 in combined fines if convicted, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 -- three times the legal limit -- at the time of the two-boat crash.

The third-term delegate has admitted to drinking before the crash, which sent two adults and two children to the hospital in addition to himself.

The Ways and Means Committee, which deals with tax and education issues, is viewed as one of the more prestigious assignments a House member can receive. But for Dwyer, an outspoken opponent of gay rights legislation and same-sex marriage, it means a lesser role on the social issues he has emphasized since he was elected to the House in 2002.

Dwyer released a statement announcing the change:

"I am certainly going to miss serving on the House Judiciary Committee after serving there for 11 years. However, I understand the speaker’s position and welcome the opportunity to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee to the best of my ability,”  Dwyer said.

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