General Assembly Journal - Part 4
January 22, 2003
Hearing on Sunset of the Board of Examiners for the Electrology and Social Workers
One of the roles my committee (Health and Government Operations Committee) plays is to decide whether or not to retain the professional oversight boards for a variety of health care occupations. Trust me, if you visit a health-related provider for some service, a state board exists to oversee that provider.
This hearing focused on two fields, those who use specific procedures to remove unwanted hair; and those often underpaid, but critically important, health care providers - social workers. I know, some you will read that last statement and think that I have a bias against the hair removal profession.
Not true! I'm sure that removing unwanted and unsightly hair is a very important service, especially to the very hairy.
Unfortunately, this gets into one of my pet peeves. This state board was commissioned because the workers in this field needed to be "policed", since public health concerns arise when we talk about needles, injections, and other related procedures. The board itself produced evidence that there were no (zero, nada, less than one) complaints registered against this profession in 2002. In fact, over the last four years, the board handled four complaints per year, none of which were health-related. Most of the complaints were related to advertising.
I can see it now: "Go from gorilla to hairless chihuahua in less than two visits!" It looks like the staff recommendation will be to consolidate the services of this vital board with other, lesser, oversight boards. The Social Worker Board, on the other hand, is vital in establishing standards and working with members across the state to maintain the professional standards and certifications of this critical field.
Friday January 24, 2003
Frederick County Delegation Meeting
We are meeting to review and discuss the legislative package submitted by the Board of County Commissioners, along with other requests. The commissioners' request has been very smooth, much smoother than in previous years. The dynamic has changed a bit, with Delegate (Galen) Clagett and I having had considerable experience as county commissioners. We understand the challenges faced by our local leaders, and feel strongly that they should be given the tools they need to govern.
Today's controversy was with the request by the county's Human Relations Commission for enforcement authority. As it currently exists, the HRC cannot compel the parties in a case to accept a remedy.
Senator (Alex) Mooney has serious concerns with how an expanded HRC enforcement authority might be used to seek remedies in cases involving sexual preference. He initially indicated his opposition, and voted against the requested expansion. The interesting twist came from an exchange with the Rev. Samie Conyers, an HRC member and former delegate candidate.
The Rev. Conyers offered that Senator Mooney might not want to send the wrong message to his constituents with a "no" vote, as it might be interpreted as being against the interests of minorities. I thought that logic, and implied threat, was probably not the best approach on behalf of the legislation.
In the end, Senator Mooney changed his vote to yes, and the bill was passed unanimously.
The other hang-up was the fault of yours truly. The Frederick Fair Board was seeking a bill to exempt the Great Frederick Fair from state and local noise ordinances. The Fair Board has proposed a statewide bill for the necessary exemptions. The logic was solid: these agricultural fairs are an important part of our history and critical to educating a growing suburban population to our heritage. Also, the events that occur at these fairs prop up our 4H and FFA programs aimed at training tomorrow's farmers. Unfortunately, a byproduct of these events is the nuisance generated by thousands of attendees like: dust, traffic, lights, and worst of all, noise.
An important component of these events are the grandstand events and shows. These events fall into two categories: concerts and track events. The track events include the harness races, the demolition derby, and the tractor pull. The concerts feature top-shelf Nashville performers in a more intimate outdoor setting than you can usually see these folks.
Last year, the City of Frederick decided that the fair should be subject to the city ordinance regarding noise pollution, requiring monitoring and mitigation. My colleagues understood that the fair board was seeking a blanket waiver through the bill. I was under the impression that the waiver being sought was for the actual fair conduct itself. I have some problems with a blanket waiver for any and all events that might occur on the grounds.
We discussed, debated, and argued our individual points of view, and in the end, the majority position to support the broader bill prevailed.
My obligation, as a member of the Frederick County Delegation, is to support the will of the majority. It would be easy (and politically cheap) to grandstand against my colleagues, but in the end, I have to accept the fact that my argument did not carry the day. This isn't the first time I've lost a vote, and won't be the last. Now, I'll advocate for the majority position as if it were my own, which is my responsibility. All bets are off, though, if I find the position of the majority to be against my fundamental principles.