Assembly Digest

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Bill aims to restore right to vote for all ex-offenders

Advocates for convicted felons are hoping a new approach to restoring voting rights to all ex-offenders will win lawmakers' approval this year, despite failure of such efforts in two past General Assembly sessions.

The proposal, announced during a news conference and heard before a House committee yesterday, would allow all ex-offenders to vote after they are released from prison. Past legislation called for minor changes to the current law, which many found confusing because it involved waiting periods based on types of offenses.

Del. Salima S. Marriott, a West Baltimore Democrat who sponsored the bill, said current law adds an unreasonable punishment to sentences handed down by the courts.

Tax urged for employers skimping on health care

The Maryland Retail Association joined the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Giant Food and other businesses yesterday in supporting a proposal to tax large companies that spend little on health care.

The bill would levy a tax on companies with more than 10,000 employees that do not spend at least 8 percent of payroll on health care. At an Annapolis rally yesterday, Giant spokesman Barry F. Scher said the bill is not just about Wal-Mart - although the retail giant is the only company in Maryland that would be affected by the legislation.

"We are not anti-Wal-Mart," Scher said. "We are for fairness and equality and whatever it takes to lower health care costs."

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