- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

ANNAPOLIS A House committee yesterday quickly killed a voter-ID bill its chairman recalled from the floor Tuesday, claiming it needed some amendments.
The proposal modeled after a measure Virginia enacted last year would have required voters listed on the rolls to show a form of official photo-ID such as a driver's license.
The bill, which the committee approved last week 14-5, also called for drivers to give their Social Security numbers to poll workers before getting a ballot.
But concern over increases in identity theft moved the committee to cut that provision before killing the bill on a 9-9 vote.
Reaction from Republicans and the bill's Democratic chief sponsor and co-sponsors ranged from outrage to disappointment.
"The bill was a voter-integrity bill and now I have to wonder about the integrity of some committee members," said Delegate B. Daniel Riley, Harford County Democrat and originator of the bill. "I have no reason to make Republicans happy. My intention was to eliminate voter fraud."
Delegate David R. Brinkley, Frederick County Republican, said he heard Democrats passed the word that House Commerce and Government Matters Chairman John F. Wood Jr., St. Mary's County Democrat, wanted the bill killed.
Mr. Wood said presenting a card or driver's license could slow balloting and result in "100 to 200 people standing in line."
Both the Democratic Party and the Legislative Black Caucus expressed similar concerns that the measure could deter people from voting.
But Maryland Republican Party chairman Michael Steele, who is black, said their objections are weak excuses not to support a good bill.
"This is bogus obfuscation. How is it going to slow down the line? You are waiting anyway and you have your photo ID ready," Mr. Steele said. "Banks require photo ID. Should black folks all of a sudden be afraid to write checks?"
Not all members of the black caucus opposed the measure.
Delegate Jeffrey A. Paige, Baltimore Democrat, was a co-sponsor.
"I'm concerned about voter fraud and I believe that [the bill would have] added some integrity to voting," Mr. Paige said.
Committee Vice Chairman Maggie L. McIntosh, Baltimore Democrat, said investigations haven't shown significant voter fraud and noted that there's time before the 2002 election for the legislature to hear recommendations from a commission looking at problems in the last election.
Bill sponsors four Democrats and four Republicans said the measure is an attempt to address problems they heard about in their jurisdictions, such as a woman in Harford County voting for her sick mother and a busload of people reported to have appeared at polls in Annapolis bearing pieces of paper with names on them.
Mr. Riley said he may try to get enough signatures to petition the bill back to the House floor.

On the eve of a key vote on legislation to give minority contractors a bigger share of state business, black and female lawmakers scrambled yesterday to make sure the bill proposed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening is not watered down in committee.
The bill increases the target for minority-contractor participation on state projects from 14 percent to 25 percent.
Members of the women's caucus and the black caucus, however, were angered by reports that the figure might be reduced to 21 percent or 22 percent when the Commerce and Government Matters Committee votes on the bill today.
At an impromptu meeting in the House lounge during yesterday's House session, members of the two caucuses vowed they would not back down and warned of retribution against the committee if it reduces the target.
Delegate Joanne Benson, Prince George's County Democrat, ended a passionate defense of the bill with the declaration, "We're not going to settle for anything less."
Lawmakers who had gathered in the crowded lounge erupted with applause and broke into a rendition of the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."
A Senate committee has approved the governor's bill with the 25 percent goal intact.
House Speaker Casper R. Taylor, who set off the uproar with a comment Wednesday that the target might be reduced, said he is pushing for the full 25 percent, but could not predict what the committee will do.
In Mr. Glendening's State of the State address in January, he listed the minority business enterprise bill as one of his top priorities. He said the state has a moral responsibility to try to ensure that companies owned by women and members of racial minorities get a fair share of the contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars that the state awards each year.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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