The Maryland Senate unanimously approved yesterday legislation that would limit the opportunities for a criminal defendant to make money by selling accounts of his crime.
The legislation, modeled in part after a so-called "Son of Sam" measure enacted in New York state last summer during the course of a highly publicized series of killings, now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.
Similar legislation, proposed by House majority Leader John S. Arnick, was killed earlier in the session by the House Judiciary Committee, where this bill will now be reviewed. One committee member explained that a majority of the Judiciary Committee had found constitutional deficiencies in the earlier measure.
The Senate-approved bill, which was sponsored by Sens. John J. Garrity (D-Prince George's) and Victor Cushwa (D. Washington), requires that any money made by criminals as a result of the renactment of recounting of their crimes must be put in a state-controlled escrow fund and remain there long enough to give the victims of the crimes a chance to sue to recover part of the proceeds.
One member of the House Judiciary committee explained yesterday that the definition of who could sue for a portion of the proceeds was too broad for the House committee. Under the House bill, he said, it might have been possible for the citizens of the entire country to sue for some of the book and movie profits made by those convicted of Watergate-related crimes.
In other action yesterday, the Senate approved almost all of the state's $4.35 billion budget. Those portions of the budget not approved, however, are likely to prove far more important than the sections that won Senate approval yesterday.
The budget appreciation passed by the Senate restores some $3.9 million of the $44 million in cuts made by the House. Before the budget can be enacted both houses must concur in the cuts and restorations.
More important than the differences over budget cuts - which involve such matters as highway constructions projects and the Baltimore-based University Hospital - is the question of how state monies will be used to fund abortions for poor women.
The House passed a budget amendment strictly restricting the use of a Medicaid fund for abortions, saying that state funds could be used for this purpose only in cases of rape or incest or if two physicians certified that long-lasting physical harm would be done to the mother if she continued the pregnancy.
The Senate, however, passed a substitute amendment allowing the unrestricted use of state Medicaid funds for abortions. The difference between the two chambers' versions must now be resolved by a conference Committee of senators and delegates who are appointed to iron out all budget-related differences.
At least two senators voted against the passage of the budget yesterday as a result of the Senate stand on the abortion question Prince George's Democrats Peter A. Bozick and Thomas P. O'Reilly.
Eastern Shore Democrat Frederick C. Malkus said he opposed the budget because he felt the poorer rural counties he represents would get shortchanged by legislation designed to distribute aid to local police departments. Another senator, John A. Cads, a Republican from Anne Arundel County, said he opposed the budget because the 11 percent increase over last year's state spending would be inflationary.
In other action yesterday the Senate passed and sent to the House legislation that would expand by about $20,000 a day the amount of money owners of winning horses can collect at Maryland tracks (see page D6), and approved a measure restructuring the state's system for purchasing supplies and contract services.