By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

7 March 1997

As the 1997 Maryland General Assembly enters its last month things have gotten especially busy up here. Committees are meeting late into the night to handle the crush of more than 900 Senate bills and 1400 House bills, a significant increase over last year. Some of the less controversial bills have passed one legislative body or the other. Two bills which I have sponsored fall into that category.

I am especially proud of a bill which emerged from some long-term negotiations between the staffs of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission and the Department of Natural Resources and representatives of the Maryland Association of Forest Industries. This bill shows that government and industry can work together toward a common goal which is helpful to the industry and at the same time protective of the environment.

The bill, Senate Bill 498, recognizes that timber could be harvested in the landward 50 feet of the 100 feet critical Area buffer without harming the natural habitat of plants and wildlife. The bill allows for the cutting of Loblolly Pine or Tulip Poplar as long as the agencies involved determine there would be no harm to the buffer and as long as the disturbed area is replanted.

I introduced SB 498 as Senate Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Oversight Committee. An identical bill also has passed the House of Delegates so the bill is assured of passage this session. This bill is a win/win situation for everybody. Bill Miles of Calvert County. representing the forest industries, is to be especially commended for his work on this bill.

I am a cosponsor of another bill which has unanimously passed the Senate. A similar measure was killed in the House last year. I hope it meets a kinder fate this year. The bill, SB 368, mandates that health insurers and HMO's provide coverage for diabetes equipment. To me it makes no sense for insurers to pay for insulin and not pay for the necessary equipment to administer it. I was so impressed with the constituent input I received on the bill last year that I decided to be a sponsor of the bill this year. I am proud to have done so.

There are two other bills which haven't got a lot of press which I thought might be of interest to you. One also recently unanimously passed the Senate. This bill, SB 117, requires health insurers, non-profit health service plans, and HMO's to provide a minimum of 48 hours cf inpatient hospitalization after a mastectomy and 24 hours of inpatient hospitalization after a lymph mode dissection. unless the patient decides it isn't necessary.

Many legislators have received complaints about medical insurers cutting back on the length of hospital stays. I can understand the desire to cut medical costs but I feel the swing may be in the opposite direction in some cases towards the detriment of health care in general .

Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" is sponsor of SB 227 which deals with penalties for homicide. The bill adds to the list of points which can be considered by a jury in
determining whether the death penalty can be imposed. Presently only the person who actually .'murders" a law enforcement officer performing his duties can be subject to the death penalty.

Under the bill accomplices, such as drivers or other cohorts, described as "a principal
in the second degree who exhibited a reckless disregard for human life," can also be subject to the death penalty. I am totally in support of this bill which as this is being written is being considered on the Senate floor after receiving a favorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

A number of local bills of interest to Calvert and St. Mary's residents still are to be decided. I'11 keep you posted in this column as we go through the remaining days of this session. In the meantime please don't hesitate to contact our Annapolis office about anything and everything. The numbers are 410-841-3673 or 1-301-858-3673.

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]