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Death Penalty Repeal, Dog Bite Liability, DNA Collection, and Jail Time For Former AA County Executive John Leopold
March 15, 2013
In Annapolis today, the House of Delegates is set for a final vote on a bill that would repeal Maryland's death penalty. Governor Martin O'Malley says he's ready to sign the bill, which has already passed the state Senate (via our wire service; more on the death penalty debate here from the Washington Post).
Former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold will be spending at least the next 30 days in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center, under the terms of his sentencing yesterday for a pair of misconduct convictions. He will also have to pay a 100-thousand dollar fine and perform 400 hours of community service and will be on probation for the next five years. Leopold was convicted of using his security detail to perform personal and political tasks; he had stepped down from his office days after being found guilty... and yesterday, he apologized for his actions (more on the sentence here from WYPR's Joel McCord; more here from the Baltimore Sun and here from the Washington Post).
Yesterday, the State Senate unanimously approved a bill dealing with liability for dog bite incidents. It's similar to a bill that unanimously passed the House of Delegates earlier in the session, but with one difference -- the Senate version makes it harder for dog owners to defend their dogs in court. The differences between the measure would have to be ironed out in a joint conference committee; if a compromise cannot be reached, a Maryland Court of Appeals decision (labeling pit bulls "inherently dangerous" and making landlords liable if one of their tenants' pit bulls bites someone) would remain in effect (more here from WYPR's Karen Hosler, and here from the Baltimore Sun).
The House of Delegates voted yesterday to make permanent Maryland's law that allows police to collect DNA samples from people who have arrested for certain violent crimes -- but not yet convicted. If the State Senate does the same, the law will not expire at the end of the year, as is currently set to do. Even if the Senate extends it, the law could still end -- as the US Supreme Court is set to decide this spring whether it volates the Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure. The Court has let Maryland continue to enforce the law until a ruling is issued, a move that could indicate that the law will be upheld (via the Baltimore Sun and the Daily Record).
Baltimore city school officials say the number of homeless students enrolled in the district so far this year is around 19-hundred. That's higher than it was last year at this time. What’s just as worrisome for officials is that 44 percent of those students are chronically absent from school. In this installment of our yearlong series "Empty Desks: The Effects of Chronic Absenteeism," WYPR's Gwendolyn Glenn reports on the obstacles that homeless students face getting to school.
On today's edition of Inside Maryland Politics, WYPR's Fraser Smith and Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record talk about why the public-private partnerships bill may have more success this year, and what it might mean for businesses in Maryland.
The House of Delegates has approved a bill that would let casinos give free cash to table game players, in what's called "promotional play". The move would make money given to gamblers at table games exempt from a requirement that a percent of the proceeds go to state education projects and local governments. The bill was designed to make Maryland's casinos more competitive in the regional gaming market; similar laws already govern casinos in neighboring West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The State Senate will take up the bill soon (via the Baltimore Sun and the Daily Record).
In other casino news, construction can now move forward on a proposed casino in Baltimore now that a judge has rejected an effort by opponents to stop the project (via our wire service, the Baltimore Sun, and the Baltimore Business Journal).
There's a mumps alert at Loyola University Maryland. The North Baltimore campus has more than one dozen confirmed and suspected cases of the mumps among students living on and off campus (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
With the Saint Patrick's Day weekend just around the corner, Baltimore City police are beefing up patrols in and around the city's entertainment districts. City police are teaming up with state police and MDTA officers in saturating Canton, Federal Hill, Fells Point and the Inner Harbor. Police will be cracking down on people drinking in the streets, by strictly enforcing the city's open container law, violations of which carry a $250 fine (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
The CDC will release details today about a deadly case of rabies in Maryland -- which led to the state's first human death from the virus in 37 years (via our wire service and the Washington Post).
And in sports: the Orioles fell 4 to 3 to the Tampa Bay Rays in yesterday's spring training game; today, the O's play against a split squad Boston Red Sox team.
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