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Annapolis Notes

April 14, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Tan-gible legislation

We have minimum ages for driving, voting and drinking alcohol.

What about tanning?

The Maryland General Assembly approved a bill requiring anyone younger than 18 to get consent from a parent or legal guardian in writing, in person.

One Senate opponent argued that the sun is more hazardous to skin.

One asked if lawmakers will regulate the consumption of Twinkies or McDonald's.

Another tried unsuccessfully to have the bill amended so parental consent would be required for abortions, too.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, who supported the bill as a step toward reducing skin cancer, sponsored a similar one in 2004, but it was defeated in committee.

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The World Health Organization has urged teenagers not to use tanning beds, citing links between ultraviolet radiation and cancer.

In a phone interview, Jean Sword, the owner of Hawaiian Tan in Hagerstown, said her salon already requires parental consent for customers younger than 16.

She said it will be difficult, with thousands of clients, to backtrack and get consent from the parents of 17- and 18-year-olds.

She defended tanning in a way that didn't come up on the Senate floor.

"When you tan," she said, "that's your body's way of protecting your body from burning."

Another strike against fakery

What comes out of your body must be the real thing.

So says a bill sponsored by Del. Adelaide C. "Addie" Eckardt, an Eastern Shore Republican.

No one shall use a "bodily fluid adulterant" -- including synthetic urine -- to alter a drug or alcohol screening test, according to the bill, which the General Assembly approved during the session that ended April 7.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs, R-Cecil/Harford, presented the bill in the Senate, then waited for questions.

Sure enough, there was one. So, as colleagues snickered, Jacobs gave a wee bit of information on synthetic urine.

Bulb bill -- another try

The Great Allegheny Power Light Bulb Debate had one last flicker in the General Assembly before the session ended April 7.

It came during House floor debate on an administration bill setting a goal of 15 percent reduction in per-capita electricity consumption and peak demand by the end of 2015.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill to require utilities to get written consent from customers before charging them for energy-saving measures.

If that sounds familiar, it should. It was at the heart of a bill filed by Del. Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany, back in January, at the peak of the light-bulb distribution brouhaha.

Kelly's bill passed both the House and Senate, but in a much milder form, without the "written consent" provision.

A senator under fire

A simmering Eastern Shore legislative feud surfaced during the last full week of this year's session on the Senate floor, with Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, in the crossfire.

Munson was the floor leader on a bill to create a special taxing district in Cecil County, meaning he presented the bill his committee approved and would have to answer any questions about it.

Knowing Eastern Shore Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who vehemently opposed the bill, was going to have both guns blazing, at least figuratively, Munson took no chances.

Pipkin rose to rail against the proposal.

Already standing, Munson hesitated.

"Wait just one second, please," he said. "I need to adequately prepare for this. Just one second."

Munson reached under his desk.

Many in the chamber, including Pipkin, laughed when Munson re-emerged -- with a police protective vest.

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