Annapolis Notes 3/26

March 25, 2001

Annapolis Notes 3/26

Mooney may back halt of executions

ANNAPOLIS - Sen. Alex X. Mooney could cast the vote that temporarily halts Maryland executions.

Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, is leaning toward voting for a two-year moratorium even though he supports the death penalty.

"I have a great concern about innocent people being put to death. It's not reversible," he said.

The moratorium was approved Saturday by the House of Delegates and Mooney's vote is seen as pivotal to getting the bill out of the Senate.

However, there are two other powerful elected officials who could block the moratorium - Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Eastern Shore, who may refuse to bring the issue up for a vote, and Gov. Parris Glendening, who could veto it.

When the House voted on the moratorium, Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, was the only Washington County delegate to vote in its favor.

Mooney argues against more animal penalties

ANNAPOLIS - In his three years as a legislator, Sen. Alex X. Mooney has built a reputation for speaking his mind even when his opinion is in the minority.

Last week was no exception.

Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, argued against tougher penalties for the torture of animals.

"You could be convicted of a felony for beating up a rat running through your house. Do we really want to go there?" he said.

But supporters of the bill said pest control and hunting would continue to be permitted under the law.

Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Anne Arundel, said the bill was a response to some heinous acts of cruelty including a cat that was shot in the face, a dog that was set on fire and a horse whose legs were sawed off.

"We're talking about aggressive acts of torture," he said.

State GOP leader lobbies for airport

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland's Senate Republican Leader wrote to President George W. Bush earlier this month to urge his support for extending Hagerstown Regional Airport's runway.

"This project is a key component to keeping our state's economy strong and prosperous. Your support for the Runway 9-27 extension would be greatly appreciated and would surely help make this project a reality for the citizens of Maryland," wrote Sen. Martin G. Madden, R-Howard/Prince George's.

Madden noted that the airport contributes $50 million to the state's economy every year.

He also pointed out that President Bush uses the airport to get to and from Camp David.

Inmate phone call bill moves through house

ANNAPOLIS - A bill that might lead to a reduction in the cost of prison inmates' telephone calls passed the Maryland House of Delegates last week.

Supported by the Washington County Delegation, the bill calls for a study of phone call costs, which some believe gouge family members of prisoners.

Del. Joanne C. Benson, D-Prince George's and a former Hagerstown resident, had wanted the state to institute price controls.

But other lawmakers were worried that the prisons would lose some of the $6.6 million a year raised by phone calls. All the money is spent on inmate services such as education, religious services, medicine and recreation.

Local jurisdictions also receive some of the profits from the phone calls. Washington County gets about $20,000 a year.

- Laura Ernde

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