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Conference Committee To Take Up N.C. Terrorism Bill

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A conference committee will work outdifferent versions of a bill pushed by Gov. Mike Easley to toughenpunishments for terrorist acts, making some deserving of the deathpenalty.

The state House unanimously rejected the Senate version of thebill, which would increase sentences for people who use nuclear,chemical or biological weapons or pretend to do so. The Houseapproved a version earlier.

Rep. Phil Baddour, the bill sponsor, said he wanted to changethe bill to incorporate definitions of biological or chemicalagents found in other new legislation. The sponsor of the Senateversion is ready to make the changes.

"We don't see anything in controversy that ought to keep usfrom approving the bill quickly," said Baddour, D-Wayne.

Under the bill, a terrorist would automatically face a potentialdeath sentence if the weapon killed someone by making it afirst-degree murder offense.

A person convicted of causing injury by releasing a chemical orbiological weapon also could be sentenced to life in prison.

The release of such a weapon with the intent to injure couldlead to a sentence of 20 years to life. Hoaxes and false reports ofsuch attacks would be punishable by five to 15 years in prison.

The legislation is one of two security-related bill lobbied forby Easley in recent weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks. Anotherbill signed into law last week gives Easley up to $32 million overthe next 1-1/2 years for statewide security efforts.

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