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Simonaire introduces bill to question Busch's removal of Dwyer from committee

Sen. Bryan Simonaire on Thursday introduced a constitutional amendment to bar an action like one taken by House Speaker Michael E. Busch against Del. Don Dwyer earlier this year.

Simonaire's constitutional amendment, he says, would guarantee a member of the General Assembly be assigned to and allowed to vote on a standing committee.

The bill, which has little to no chance of passing, comes after Busch, D-Annapolis, removed Dwyer, R-Pasadena, from his standing committee in January, stripping Dwyer of his right to vote anywhere but on the floor of the House of Delegates.

Dwyer was sentenced in October 2013 to 30 consecutive weekends in jail for two separate incidents of operating his boat while drunk and driving his car under the influence. He has spent most weekends during the 2014 General Assembly in confinement.

As he was facing charges in the first incident, Dwyer was removed from the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 10, 2013. The Judiciary Committee considers legislation on criminal and civil law, including drunken driving and boating issues.

Busch reassigned Dwyer to the Ways and Means Committee, on which he served through the 2013 General Assembly.

But last August, Dwyer was arrested for driving his Cadillac under the influence of alcohol. In January, Busch removed Dwyer from the House Ways and Means Committee and didn't reassign him to another committee.

Simonaire, R-Pasadena, said he was not introducing the legislation to "condone" Dwyer. (Note: Simonaire's daughter, Meagan Simonaire, is running against Dwyer in District 31B in the 2014 primary election)

But in a statement, Simonaire said he was instead miffed that his district had lost a vote.

"This bill is not focused on the specifics details surrounding Del. Dwyer's case," Simonaire said, "but the serious and troubling overall policy that allows a presiding officer the ability to strip fundamental voting rights from an active member of the General Assembly."

Later in the statement, Simonaire said Dwyer would still have to answer to his constituents for "missing up to 50 percent of his committee votes in other years."

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