A compromise measure intended to provide limited protection for tenants of buildings being converted to condominiums was approved by a Maryland Senate committee heavily lobbied by both real estate interests and, on behalf of tenants, by Montgomery County.
The condominium legislation had been actively sought by Montgomery County Executive Charles Gilchrist following a wave of 15,000 condominium conversions in the county during the last 10 years. The measure approved today would not give Gilchrist and other local governments the authority they sought over condominium devlopers but is "defintely something we can live with," the county executive said tonight.
The measure still faces tough opposition both on the Senate floor and in the House of Delegates.
Under the terms of the measure, Maryland counties would have the chance to buy buildings being converted to condominiums and rent out their units for three years. Should the county forgo its option to buy, under the bill the condominium converters would have to allow a fifth of the units in a building to be rented for three years to elderly and handicapped persons. This rental period could be extended by county governments.
The condominium compromise rejected provisions, sought by large condominium companies and championed Sen. Jerome S. Connell (D-Anne Arundel), vice chairman of the committee and head of a condominium commission appointed by the governor two years ago, that would have preempted all local authority over conversions.
However, the measure approved by the committee would deny counties the right to place a moratorium on conversions, as Gilchrist ordered in Montgomery County.
In a frenetic Friday session extended well into the night there were these other legislative developments:
The Senate rejected one amendment severely restricting abortions for Medicaid patients, liberalized standards in another and then tightened them in a third. The version that finally prevailed, as an amendment to the state budget, would eliminate state funding of abortions for poor women in cases where a woman's present and future mental health would be affected if she gave birth. A similar amendment, passed last year, was killed in a House-Senate conference committee, and today's language will also be reffered to a conference committee.
The House Judiciary Committee, starting consideration of a package of bills supported by Gov. Harry Hughes aimed at toughening drunk driving laws, gave quick approval to two of the measures. These bills would strengthen police powers to impose blood and breath tests on suspects.
The House, meanwhile, rebuffed an effort to revive a bill designed to reduce lawyers' fees in estate cases.