The Maryland Senate gave final approval yesterday to a measure that would give cities and counties the authority to install speed cameras and collect up to $100 in fines from speeding motorists. Although a similar bill awaits action in the House, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) signaled yesterday that the bill may get no further than his desk.
"I've never been crazy about that concept," Ehrlich told reporters shortly after the 30 to 17 vote. Ehrlich has spoken out against both speed cameras and red-light cameras as little more than ways for localities to make money. A move to abolish the red-light cameras already operating in Maryland was killed in the Senate this week.
Bill supporters, including a number of cities and law enforcement officials, say the speed cameras will heighten public security and free up state troopers and police officers. Critics say the cameras infringe upon civil liberties and are inexact.
Although similar speed camera bills have died in each of the last two sessions, Del. William A. Bronrott (D-Montgomery), the sponsor of the House bill, said he remains optimistic about the bill's chance to become law this year. It has been significantly narrowed to "hot spots," he said, and allows cameras only in residential neighborhoods where posted speeds are at least 35 mph and in school zones.
Grosfeld Leaves for 2nd Surgery
The Maryland Senate gave a standing ovation and wished Sen. Sharon M. Grosfeld (D-Montgomery) well yesterday as the newly elected senator from Kensington left to have a second surgery for breast cancer today. Although Grosfeld said she hopes to return to work the end of next week, lawmakers sent her their "wishes and prayers for the future" in the event she will not be back before the April 7 adjournment.
Grosfeld, long a proponent of women's health issues during her eight years in the House of Delegates, said she discovered a lump in February during a self-exam. Her annual mammogram last June was negative. She learned March 3 that the tumor was cancerous. Today, doctors at Sibley Hospital will remove the lymph nodes where the cancer has spread. After that, she is slated for four months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.
"This is something that is very treatable. Thousands of women get this," Grosfeld said in an interview. "I'm one of the lucky ones. The tumor was found early, I have health insurance, loving family and friends and supportive colleagues. The support has been overwhelming."
Grosfeld's mother died of ovarian cancer and her grandmother of breast cancer while she was still young. "This was unexpected," the 46-year-old mother of two boys said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time."
Offering Support for Troops
Resolutions supporting U.S. troops "fulfilling their patriotic duty" and fighting in Iraq were introduced in the Senate and House of Delegates yesterday, while 11 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Bush imploring him to stop the war.
Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus (R-Somerset) and Del. Herbert H. McMillan (R-Anne Arundel) got unanimous consent to introduce the resolutions signaling "strong support for liberating Iraq," although the deadline for introducing legislation has passed.
McMillan told House members that regardless of how people feel about the war, members of the armed forces in Iraq "need to know that . . . we respect their service and sacrifice."
The five senators and six delegates who oppose the war made it clear they support the troops fighting in Iraq.
"We pray for the safety of our troops and offer them support, but we cannot support the policy that put them there," the letter said. "We believe this war . . . is not justified by the threat posed by Iraq's Saddam Hussein."
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), talking with reporters, said that the letter to Bush was an exercise in free speech but that he strongly disagreed. "To continue to placate a dictator this bad invites more problems in the future," he said.
The senators who signed the letter, all Democrats, were Joan Carter Conway and Verna L. Jones of Baltimore, Sharon M. Grosfeld of Montgomery and Paul G. Pinsky and Nathaniel Exum of Prince George's County.
The six House signers, also all Democrats, were Elizabeth Bobo and Frank S. Turner of Howard County, Joanne C. Benson of Prince George's, Salima Siler Marriott of Baltimore, Karen S. Montgomery of Montgomery and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam of Baltimore.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.