Sex Offenders, Cyclists, Drunken Drivers Considere on Legislature's Last Day

By Chris Gordon
|  Monday, Apr 12, 2010  |  Updated 8:30 PM EDT
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Maryland Lawmakers Wrap-Up Legislative Session

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Maryland Lawmakers Wrap-Up Legislative Session

On the last day of the Maryland General Assembly's legislative session, several safety issues are being weighed.
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The Maryland Legislature made it a priority to change its laws monitoring dangerous sex offenders.

A new bill calls for much longer prison sentences for first time sex offenders followed by life-long supervision. A sexual predator is suspected in the death of 11-year-old Sarah Haley Foxwell on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

"There's no question that the data shows that sexual predators have a congenital problem and you just can't deter them with the usual disincentives, so we're going to have an extended supervision for these individuals," said Montgomery County Delegate Luiz Simmons who serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

On the last day of the legislative session, a large group of cyclists rode into Annapolis in a show of support for a safety bill one week after fellow cyclist Larry Bensky was killed on the road. His wife Tamara went to tell lawmakers his story.

"Last Tuesday when he was riding his bike on an open road on a beautiful afternoon, with no oncoming traffic, someone hit him from behind at a rate of speed at which killed him instantly," she said.

For five years, cyclists have been trying to get a law passed requiring motorists to give them 3 feet of passing distance.

"You know if that law was in place and that driver knew that that law was in place and followed it, my husband would be here," Bensky said.

The top legislative priority of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is a bill requiring first offenders guilty of driving under the influence to install an ignition interlocking device to prevent their car from starting when alcohol is detected.

"Where it has been implemented in the form that it has been introduced it has reduced drunk driving fatalities by one-third, and in the state of Maryland, that means 55 lives that will not be lost on Maryland's roads each and every one of the coming years," said Delegate Benjamin Kramer, of Montgomery County, sponsored the bill.

But opponents said it's too strict a punishment for first offenders, who may be just one sip over the line.

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