Annapolis Note - Fast-lane bill gets green light on second vote

March 03, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

When Del. Joseph R. Bartlett voted against a bill to require slow drivers to move out of the fast lane, he was ribbed by one lawmaker who joked that Bartlett was ignoring his constituency.

"Joe just lost the Bubba vote," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, who voted for the bill.

During the debate, opponents of the bill argued that it would benefit "the macho drivers in the pickup trucks."

Although the bill initially died after a close House of Delegates vote, supporters rallied the troops and called for a new vote.

This time the bill passed 90-49. Incidentally, it also had the support of Bartlett, R-Frederick.

Local delagation's bills still in committee

Many of the Washington County delegation's bills are still languishing in the House Rules Committee because they were filed late, but local lawmakers said it's not time to panic.

"We'll get 'em through," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, vice chairman of the delegation.


Generally, late filings are not a problem for local bills, said Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee.

McKee said Rules Committee Chairwoman Del. Hattie N. Harrison, D-Baltimore city, has assured him she will let the bills begin to move through the legislative process.

In order to be signed into law, the bills have to pass the Maryland General Assembly before it adjourns April 7.

The delegation's signature piece of legislation, titled the "Growth Management Act of 2003," is among the nine out of 14 local bills that are stuck in the committee.

The bill would allow the Washington County Commissioners to enact a transfer tax and excise fee while repealing impact fees.

Mooney sponsors anti-violence bill

During the election, Sen. Alex X. Mooney's opponent criticized him for failing to support victims of domestic violence.

As if to prove Democrat Sue Hecht wrong, Mooney sponsored a bill this year to help keep batterers from finding out where their victims live.

Victims could have their mail processed through the Maryland Attorney General's Office, allowing them to keep their address confidential in public records, said Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington.

The program would cost the state about $192,000 a year, according to estimates from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.

The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence supports the concept, but requested a year to study how best to administer the program.

North Carolina and New Jersey already have similar programs in place.

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