A bill that would prohibit persons whose driver's licenses have been revoked in other states or the District of Columbia from driving in Maryland during the revocation period was approved today by a committee of the House of Delegates.
The measure could have a greater effect on residents of the state's Washington suburbs than on most other Marylanders, according to Del. David Gray Ross (D-Prince George's).
According to a District of Columbia traffic regulation, persons arrested and charged with drunk driving in the city have their driving privileges automatically revoked in Washington unless they apply for a stay of the revocation within five days.
Ross, a lawyer, said one of his clients, who had forgotten to file for a stay, was without privileges to drive in Washington for 10 months before he was acquited of a drunk driving charge in trial.
Had the bill approved by the committee been in effect, Ross said, the client would also have been unable to drive in Maryland, where he lives, during those 10 months.
The bill was sponsored by Del. Joseph Owens (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He said he introduced it to prevent "people whose licenses are revoked in other states from trying to get licenses in Maryland."
Owens said he would be willing to consider an amendment to his bill to take care of the possible problems of Washington area residents. He added, "if you're not willing to ask for a stay in five days, you don't have much of a complaint."
While the House committee was concerned with driver's licenses, the Senate took up the thorny issue of a state proposal to install an 890-bed medium and minimum security prison at the abandoned Continental Can factory in East Baltimore.
Two East Baltimore Democrats. Sens. Robert L. Douglass and Joseph S. Bonvegna, have vowed to conduct a filibuster on the bill that would provide $26 million to acquire the Continental Can building and convert it to a prison.
Douglass and Bonvegna represent two communities each located within three blocks of the massive, deteriorating can factory. "Establishment of a prison in this area would take two stable communities, one black and one white, and cause chaos, bring them to their knees," said Sen. Cornell N. Dypski (D-Baltimore), another East Baltimore senator.
The land on which the factory is located is owned by politically influential developer Morton Sarubin, a cousin of Gov. Marvin Mandel's financial and political patron, Irvin Kovens.
Sarubin purchased the land from Continental Can last August for $1.9 million. Three months later, he signed a lease-purchase agreement with the state guaranteeing him a minimum of $3 million for the 25-acre property.
Today, the Senate approved an amendment that would limit the maximum profit Sarubin could make on the deal to $1.6 million. Under the terms of the lease Sarubin signed with Mandel's office, he could have made up to $2.6 million on the sale.
Sen. Alfred Lipin (D-Anne Arundel), chairman of the subcommittee that approved the Continental Can purchase, outlined Mandel's arguments in favor of the arrangement in a long speech preceeding today's vote.
"The assertion on this was some covert action whereby Mr. Sarubin bought the property for the purpose of quickly leasing it to the state for a major profit is unfounded," said Lipin.
"The state buys and sells leases all the time. The question of whether the seller will make a profit has never been relevant. The only consideration is whether the purchase price is close to the fair market value" of the property, Lipin added.
The Senate defeated an amendment offered by Douglass that would have deleted the money for the Continental Can purchase by a vote of 28 to 14. Further consideration of the purchase -- put off until Saturday.
The 14 votes Douglass received on his amendment were two short of the number of supporters he needs in order to keep the filibuster safe from any move by the majority of the Senate to cut him off.
In other action, the House passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would automatically end the state's $5 million-a-year subsidy of high school driver education courses after three years unless the programs are improved.
The strongest opposition to the measure, which passed on an 84-to-47 vote, came from representatives of the Washington suburbs. "Vote for this bill only if you want to eliminate driver's education from your schools," declared Del Robert Anthony Jacques (D-Montgomery).
That drew an immediate retort from Del Harold L. Dechman (D-Anne Arundel): "You are the wealthiest county in the state, maybe in the country. Why are you hollering about losing money?"