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Annapolis Notes - April 4

April 03, 2011

A new leash on nightlife?

Doggie dining could be a bone, er, boon for economic development, some lawmakers say.

The Dining Out Growth Act of 2011 lets restaurants have outdoor space for humans and dogs to eat together — following in Frederick County, Md.’s pawsteps from 2010.

The bill passed the House 124-8 on March 25.

Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, was the only local delegate to vote “no.”

Asked why, Parrott wrote in an email that he supports freedoms, but doesn’t think the bill protects patrons from dangerous dogs, which could lead to more dog bites.

Parrott wrote that he also is concerned about hygiene and wondered why dogs are mentioned, but not other animals.

The story behind the vote, amended

Last week, Annapolis Notes mentioned that a large percentage of House votes against a sex-crime bill came from a pocket of Western Maryland delegates who sit near each other.

The bill, which the House passed 126-12 on March 23, would expand the statute of limitations from one year to three years for a fourth-degree sex offense against a minor.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. said at the time that the group probably relied on advice from Del. Kevin Kelly, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, which heard the bill. But Kelly said his opposition was meant for a gun-related bill; when his computer screen briefly went blank, he lost track of which bill was up for vote.

Since then, Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, also on the Judiciary Committee, said it actually was his advice that apparently swayed his colleagues on that vote.

Parrott said he opposes the longer statute of limitations because people’s memories become less reliable as time passes.

Pipkin praises the press

While opposing a bill to let boards of education use mounted cameras to catch motorists who illegally pass school buses, Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Caroline/Cecil/Kent/Queen Anne’s, used a Herald-Mail story to bolster his argument.

The story reported that the State Highway Administration admitted posting an incorrect graphic about when traffic must stop for a school bus. Herald-Mail reporter Julie E. Greene noticed the error and wrote about it.

“Thank God we have the press that was able to point it out that it was wrong and they took it down,” Pipkin said, holding up a copy of Greene’s story during floor debate Tuesday. “But if State Highway Administration doesn’t understand all these rules, are we ready, really ready, to go into a scenario in which we grant statewide authority to be able to put cameras on school buses when our own department hasn’t done its homework yet?”

Sen. Joseph M. Getty, R-Baltimore/Carroll, defended the bill, but echoed Pipkin’s praise.

“You are correct,” Getty said. “Everybody on this floor appreciates the work of the Fourth Estate in monitoring what goes on in state government, especially in the bureaucracies of state agencies that are out there, and bringing that to our attention.”

The Senate passed the bill 38-7, advancing it to the House.

— Andrew Schotz,
andrews@herald-mail.com

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