Annapolis briefs

February 27, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Second bill filed to boost correctional officers' pensions

ANNAPOLIS -- A labor union is focusing on a second bill to boost correctional officers' pensions now that the first bill is gone.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, had filed a bill proposing a new tier for lieutenants, captains and majors. Their pension would be 2.5 percent of their average final salary, times the number of years they served.

However, other officers would stay on a lower tier and actually would see a slight decline in their pensions, as the multiplier dipped from 1.82 percent to 1.8 percent.


Donoghue withdrew the bill this month, about a week after it was heard.

A representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents correctional officers, said the union prefers a bill filed by Del. Adrienne A. Jones, D-Baltimore County.

It would raise the pension standard from 1.82 percent to 2.4 percent for all officers. It also would increase the member contribution rate from 5 percent to 6 percent.

Jones' bill will be heard March 11.

Donoghue has a separate bill to include correctional case managers in the Correctional Officers' Retirement System. The bill was assigned Monday to the House Appropriations Committee.

Hate-crimes bill passes Senate

ANNAPOLIS -- A hate-crimes bill filed by Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, has passed the Senate and has moved to the House of Delegates.

The Senate approved Mooney's bill 40-4 on Feb. 21.

This is the third straight year that Mooney has tried to pass a bill extending hate-crimes protection to the homeless.

It narrowly failed on the floor of the Senate in 2005.

The Senate passed the bill last year, but it died in a House committee.

James Devine of Hagerstown, who is homeless, testified in Annapolis in favor of the bill this session when it was heard in a Senate committee, then again during a House committee hearing.

House committee approves sex-offender bill

ANNAPOLIS -- The House Judiciary Committee has approved Del. Christopher B. Shank's bill to require certain offenders to be part of the state sex-offender registry.

The bill only applies to offenders who committed crimes before Oct. 1, 1995, but who were convicted on or after that date.

A Washington County woman testified in favor of the bill last week. She said in an interview that former Boonsboro Middle School social studies teacher Robert Merle Haines Jr. sexually abused her while she was a student 25 years ago. Haines pleaded guilty in 2006 to sexual child abuse.

Because of a legal loophole, Haines wouldn't have to register as a sex offender when he's released from prison, but the bill, if passed, would change that, said Shank, R-Washington.

The Judiciary Committee sent the bill to the full House of Delegates, which preliminarily approved it Tuesday. The bill will be back for a final vote.

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