Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening has vetoed a bill passed by the County Council that would have authorized the county health department to check for possible criminal records on persons seeking jobs in licensed day-care centers.
In a two-page veto message sent to Council Chairman William B. Amonett Tuesday, Glendening said that the legislation, which passed the council on a 8-to-1 vote Nov. 27, is "faulty and should not be allowed to become law."
The bill, sponsored by James M. Herl, would have prohibited day-care facilities licensed by the county from employing anyone who has been convicted of physical or sexual child abuse or any other crimes involving children.
Glendening said yesterday that after meeting with health department officials and his advisers, he decided that Herl's bill would not effectively combat child abuse.
Glendening specifically criticized the measure on the grounds that it would only affect employes of state-licensed facilities, who constitute, he said, "a small portion" of the county's child-care workers. He also said that last-minute changes made in the bill gave the health department enforcement responsibility without first consulting health officials about whether that would work.
Glendening also said that the council bill would be difficult to enforce if employes working in Prince George's facilities had criminal backgrounds in jurisdictions outside of Maryland, since county agencies would be unable to gain access to those records.
"It's a good idea," he said of the bill. "It just wasn't put together well."
But Herl said that Glendening's objections were "trivial compared to the overall problem" the legislation was seeking to address.
Herl said he did not know if he had the six votes needed to override the veto when the nine-member council returns to session in January, but he added that if the veto stands he will reintroduce the legislation.
County health officer Helen B. McAllister said yesterday that the bill in its final form would have cost nearly $257,000 to start up and more than $167,000 to run each subsequent year.
The police department, which had been originally designated to perform the background checks, told the council that it would have cost $1.2 million to run the program.
Prince George's Del. Marian L. Patterson, who serves on Gov. Harry Hughes' Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, said that a draft version of a bill similar to the one vetoed by Glendening is part of a package of legislation now on the governor's desk.