GPS tracking bill approved as General Assembly winds down

April 13, 2010

ANNAPOLIS -- A bill allowing the GPS tracking of some who failed to comply with protective orders passed the House of Delegates unanimously Monday night in the last hours of the 2010 General Assembly session.

The House bill, which was sponsored by the Washington County delegation and championed by Sheriff Douglas Mullendore, had passed unanimously in the Senate.

Under the bill, someone on pretrial release who faces a charge of violating a protective order could be supervised by a tracking device. Those who receive a suspended sentence for failing to comply with a protective order also could be put on electronic monitoring.

If signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley, the program will take effect Oct. 1, 2010.

Once he works out the purchase of the tracking devices, Mullendore will meet with judges in Washington County to talk about the program, he said Tuesday.


"I look forward to getting it implemented," he said. "It provides a very good tool in the toolbox."

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, who previously filed a similar GPS bill, said he was pleased to see the bill pass.

The GPS initiative is a pilot program, and, in two years, the sheriff must report on its effectiveness, according to the bill. A similar program will be used in Prince George's County.

Several other Washington County-sponsored bills also passed this session.

o A measure sponsored by the delegation allowing polygraphs for those who apply to work at the Washington County Emergency Communications Center received final approval earlier this month.

o The Correctional Officers' Bill of Rights, sponsored by Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, passed and will take effect Oct. 1, 2010, if signed into law by O'Malley.

Munson on Tuesday called the bill's passage, "a major step forward for correctional officers and for justice, a sense of justice in their jobs."

Munson also was pleased to see Washington County receive money in the capital budget for several local projects.

o He helped secure $550,000 in funding for repairs to the dam at Devil's Backbone Park.

o Also included in the capital budget is $2.5 million for the Western Maryland Library and $2,525,000 for a new Maryland State Police barrack in Hagerstown.

o Munson secured $75,000 for the construction of the Rural Heritage Transportation Museum in Boonsboro and $50,000 each for the Deafnet Association Inc. to expand its building and Washington County Museum of Fine Arts to enclose its courtyard.

o Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, also secured $50,000 each on the House side for Deafnet and the museum.

Shank called it "disappointing" that several of the bills he pushed didn't even get to a committee vote.

Justice's Law, which Shank introduced this session for the third time, wasn't taken to a vote before the House Judiciary Committee.

The measure would increase the maximum penalty for conviction on a charge of first-degree child abuse resulting in death from 30 years to life in prison.

Shank blamed the committee system, in which the chair has sole discretion over when and if bills are voted on, for killing the bill. The chair of the House Judiciary Committee was Joseph F. Vallario Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George's. Enough people on the committee would have voted for the bill to send it to the full House, Shank said.

Another of Shank's bills, one that would allow for the prosecution of dealers when a minor dies because of drugs, was discussed but not voted on in the same committee.

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