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Child buying bill fails

March 03, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- Lawmakers in the Maryland Senate have turned down a bill proposed by Sen. Donald F. Munson that would have made it illegal for someone to buy a child.

The same bill, cross-filed in the House by Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, also died in committee last month.

However, Munson, R-Washington, said he plans to push for the bill again next year.

He said he did not know why the bill died, but committee members in the House said they turned it down because they thought it was unnecessary. The bill also would have made it illegal to offer to buy a child.

It currently is a crime to sell a child, and Munson has said the bill proposed by both lawmakers would correct an "oversight" in the law.

Committee members in the House said they thought that buying or offering to buy a child was already prohibited under current law.

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However, a letter from Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe, addressed to Munson, said, "the buying of a minor is covered by the current law only to the extent that the payments are made in connection with an adoption. Otherwise, the purchase of a minor is not expressly prohibited."

"I think the attorney general's opinion was pretty clear," Serafini said. "I believe this is something that should have been fairly simple."

The bill was filed in response to an incident at City Park in Hagerstown in which a woman was approached by a stranger who offered to buy one of her five children. The man offered the woman $10,000 for her 4-month-old, and when she refused, the man offered her $20,000.

Munson said the Senate committee did not offer a reason why it killed the bill. Serafini said he also was given "no good reason" for why his bill was not approved.

"If it looks like it has a chance at all, we can make a change and submit it again next year," Munson said.

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