Prince George's County delegates in Annapolis will discuss liquor licenses and bi-county agencies today and Friday, as they attempt to clear the legislative slate for more controversial issues to come.
Friday, members of the delegation's County Affairs Committee will be asked to endorse a bill increasing the number of liquor licenses that the county's license commissioners can distribute. A more radical measure, sponsored by Del. Sylvania Woods (D-Glenarden), that would have given the commissioners the right to decide the number of licenses available, was killed in committee two weeks ago.
Bi-county items up for discussion by Prince George's delegates this morning include bills that would tighten requirements for truckers to cover their loads, set school zone speed limits, and clarify procedures for removing members of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
Del. Constance A. Morella (R-Bethesda), said this week she had no particular commission member in mind when she wrote the Sanitary Commission measure.
With these issues out of the way, delegates will be free to tackle what may prove the most controversial Prince George's bill this session: a proposal by Del. Charles S. Blumenthal (D-Oxon Hill) that would lower income tax rates in the county and thereby, it is hoped, attract new residents with high incomes. This bill is not expected to reach the County Affairs panel before late next week.
Meanwhile, state senators from the Washington suburbs have been pushing for several statewide bills supported by anti-drunk driving organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hold hearings Friday on a bill sponsored by Sen. Thomas P. O'Reilly (D-Riverdale) that would allow parents to claim damages for the wrongful death of children over 17 years old. O'Reilly said the bill would have the greatest benefit to families of children killed by drunk drivers.
Currently, parents are not entitled to claim damages for wrongful death of a child who is 18 or older. O'Reilly argues that many children over 17 still live at home, are still dependent on their parents, or are still very close to them.
O'Reilly has introduced similar bills in the past, and although they have passed in the Senate, they have never survived the House of Delegates.
"I believe the bill has a stronger chance of passage because of increased recognition of the drunk driving problem" in Maryland this year, O'Reilly said, adding that he is counting on support from state legislators from Prince George's to spearhead its passage. But he conceded that it is likely to be opposed, as it has been in the past, by the insurance industry.