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Mooney makes pitch for victims' confidentiality

April 06, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Washington/Frederick, believes in the old adage, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

For three years, Mooney has tried to get legislation through the Maryland General Assembly to establish an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic violence.

This year, the Senate passed such a measure, and on Tuesday, Mooney made a plea to the House Judiciary Committee to give the bill its blessing as well.

The bill allows state and local agencies to respond to requests for public records without divulging a victim's address. Process service, first-class mail, and certified and registered mail would be accepted at a substitute address.

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Mooney told the committee that a companion House bill filed by Del. Joseph Bartlett, R-Frederick, died, but that the Senate added an amendment that he said should satisfy their concerns. That amendment requires police officers to get approval before they could get a victim's address, he said.

He pointed out that 17 states already have such programs, and that the bill had "strong bipartisan support" in Maryland.

Even his political opposite, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, supported such a program in that state, Mooney said.

But in a committee where the chairman has a reputation for holding bills, Mooney pleaded for an early report on the bill.

"The bill passed in the committee 17-3 last year," Mooney reminded committee Chairman Joseph Vallario, "but it ran out of time on the floor."

With less than a week left in the legislative session, Mooney said he feared the bill might meet the same fate this year if the committee didn't send it to the full House soon.

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