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Stalking penalties, ethics guidelines on County Council agenda tonight


Public hearings on bills that would stiffen the penalty for stalking and establish ethics guidelines for departing county employees are scheduled for tonight's County Council meeting.

The stalking bill, which was introduced by Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, would make the crime a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Mr. Middlebrooks' bill is almost identical to legislation passed in January by the Annapolis City Council. Prince George's County is the only other local jurisdiction in Maryland that has a stalking law.

The bill would prohibit the continuing harassment of a person by sending threatening cards or letters, by issuing direct threats or by following the person.

Several stalking bills, which would make the crime a felony, are pending in the General Assembly this session. Mr. Middlebrooks said any state law would not take effect until Oct. 31, and his bill would provide citizens with protection until then, or in case the state bills are not passed.

County Council Chairman David G. Boschert's ethics bill will prohibit county employees from lobbying the county for one year after they leave government service.

Specifically, the bill prohibits a former county official or employee from communicating "with any county official or employee for the purpose of influencing any legislative or executive action."

The legislation is aimed at curbing any conflicts of interest for employees who may resign or be laid off as the result of the impending reorganization and consolidation of county government.

A vote on the county executive's reorganization is also expected.

The Council Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Arundel Center.

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