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Dwyer withdraws proposal to automatically suspend lawmakers serving jail time

Del. Don Dwyer has withdrawn a bill he proposed in the General Assembly to automatically suspend any lawmaker serving jail time.

Dwyer's House Bill 734 was scheduled to be heard Monday by the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee. But at the beginning of the hearing, it was announced Dwyer withdrew the bill.

Dwyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

The bill, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have had to have been approved by the voters, would have required a member of the General Assembly convicted of any crime and sentenced to jail to be suspended without pay or benefits. If the conviction became final, the member would have been removed from office.

The Pasadena Republican submitted the bill after House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, and House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena, said Maryland law should be changed to force incarcerated officials out of office.

Dwyer, R-Pasadena, was sentenced in October 2013 to 30 weekends in jail. He has been spending most weekends during the 2014 General Assembly session in confinement.

Dwyer told The Capital in February he decided to submit the bill after Busch and Kipke said they supported a law change.

"At this point there isn't such a mechanism," Dwyer said. "And after I thought about it, I thought 'who better than me to put in such a bill?'"

Dwyer has proposed another bill related to his legal woes in the past two years. House Bill 733 would require a mandatory minimum sentence similar to one he served for elected officials convicted of drunken driving.

The bill would require some elected officials to be sentenced to 60 days or 30 weekends if convicted of drunken driving. Those convicted would also be required to undergo inpatient and outpatient alcohol rehabilitation programs and have an ignition interlock system on their vehicle for 18 months.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee had little to say about the bill during a hearing last week. But in written testimony opposing the legislation, the Maryland Judicial Conference said the bill raises "constitutional concerns" because it would penalize state officials differently from average citizens.

That bill has yet to be voted on by the committee.

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