Senate OKs bill to help charter schools...

Senate OKs bill to help charter schools get funding

The state Senate voted unanimously yesterday to approve a bill aimed at encouraging charter schools in Maryland. The bill would give local school boards and the state school board the authority to create such schools.


Similar legislation is pending before a House of Delegates committee. Though school districts technically have the authority to approve charter schools, state legislation is required to let the schools apply for federal start-up funding.

Charter schools are public schools run by groups or institutions with contracts giving them public funding but making them independent of some rules and regulations. Typically, they hire their own teachers and pick their own instructional programs but can lose their charters if student achievement doesn't improve.


Drunken-driving measure moves closer to approval

Efforts to toughen Maryland's laws against drinking and driving cleared another hurdle yesterday as a Senate committee approved a bill to lower to 0.08 percent the blood-alcohol level needed to convict someone of the most serious drunken-driving offense.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee also voted for a proposal to allow prosecutors to tell judges and juries whether defendants have refused to take Breathalyzer tests. Both bills are identical to ones that have been passed by the House of Delegates, and they are expected to win approval in the Senate.

Committee likely to vote on gay rights bill Monday

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee decided not to take up the governor's gay rights bill yesterday but probably will vote on the measure Monday, the panel's chairman said.

The bill would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing and employment.