- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2002

ANNAPOLIS Three Marylanders who lost family members in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon attended a Senate hearing yesterday to demonstrate support for legislation that would eliminate probate fees and estate taxes for terrorist victims.
"This bill is important to all of the victims' families," said Eloise Clarke, a Prince George's County resident whose daughter, Antoinette Sherman, was severely burned when a plane crashed into the Pentagon. Miss Sherman died a week later.
"Any help we can get through passage of this bill is a good thing," Mrs. Clarke told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Sen. Walter Baker, Cecil County Democrat and chairman of the committee, assured Mrs. Clarke that "We're going to take care of you."
Sen. Leo Green, Prince George's County Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said it would have a minimal fiscal impact, saving victims' families about $30,000 in lost fees and estate taxes.
"This bill would be just a mild attempt to assist them in their grief," Mr. Green said.
Mrs. Clarke was the only one of the family members who testified, but all three said after the hearing that it was important to them and to other victims' relatives.
"Anything helps. It doesn't matter the amount," said Jalin Debeuneure, 20, a college student whose father was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
Her mother and grandmother had died before the attack, leaving her to handle her father's estate on her own.
"A lot of things have been thrown at me all at once," Miss Debeuneure said. "I'm pleased with the help so far."
The bill would allow county registers of wills to waive probate fees for families of more than 60 victims from Maryland.
"The human and compassionate aspects of the legislation are considerable," Prince George's County Register of Wills Lynn Skerron said, adding that would be the main benefit because Maryland does not tax the estates of close relatives and thus only a few would be subject to taxation.
Sen. Richard Colburn, Dorchester County Republican, said he will try to amend the bill to include Marylanders killed in Afghanistan as well as those killed in the September 11 attack.
Mr. Colburn said the family of Walter F. Cohee III, one of two Marines killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, also deserves consideration from the state.
Andrea Doctor, whose husband was killed in the Pentagon, said any help would be welcome.
Now she is raising two teen-age children while attending nursing school and running a household without help.
"We're trying to survive. We're trying to get through this," she said.

Maryland would be able to lock up sexually violent predators indefinitely under legislation introduced in the state Senate yesterday.
The bill by Sen. Norman Stone, Baltimore County Democrat, would allow the state to commit sexual offenders to a mental institution after they have completed their criminal sentences.
They could be kept locked up until psychiatrists determined it was safe to release them.

Hunting advocates say Maryland's firearms deer season should be expanded from 13 days to 21 days, including three Sundays.
Delegate George Owings, Calvert County Democrat, pitched his bill to the House Environmental Matters Committee yesterday. He said it is time to end the Sunday ban that has been in place since colonial times.
But opponents say hikers and horseback riders need one day a week when they can enjoy the woods without fear of being shot.
Mr. Owings told the committee a longer season is needed to control the state's population of white-tailed deer, now estimated at more than 250,000. He said he speaks from experience he has hit a deer with his car five times in just the past three years.



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