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March 1, 2012

Playing the Political Games in Annapolis

Patricia A. Kelly

One might remember the recent fracas in Maryland over in-state tuition for illegal immigrant college students. A bill allowing it was proposed, citing the problem of these children, who, it was stated by proponents, would make much greater contributions to society if educated.


That is, of course, if they have access to a forged Social Security card, because, otherwise, they would not be allowed to work in this country.


A petition was circulated, calling for the measure to go to referendum so the people could decide, rather than just the legislators. CASA de Maryland, an independent organization that assists immigrants, and, for some reason, receives state money, sued to have the petition signers’ signatures ruled invalid. The suit failed, so we’ll soon be voting on this tuition question.


In order to plug this dreadful loophole, the one allowing citizens to decide what they think the government should do, a new bill is pending which will require each petition page in our state to be notarized, among other things. That should keep us in our place, little opinionated upstarts that we are. Imagine us trying to chart our own course, or influence our government with our pesky opinions, or decide how tax money is spent. This bill number is HB 127 ( If you feel like discussing it with your representative, feel free to do so.


To further assist us, and any minority representatives we might support, to remain in our places, another pending bill will allow the Speaker of the House of Delegates to decide that the debaters are becoming unruly, and, thus, without recourse for those arguing the issue, shut off debate. That should keep us quiet. You could mention this to your leadership, too.


The other interesting – and often overlooked – fact of our state government relates to the state budget. At present, any taxes paid that are intended to serve a particular purpose, such as maintenance of our highway system, may be moved out of the designated fund and used to balance the budget. Because our state has done this, we are now facing the possibility of an increased gas tax. This tax will supposedly go to the plundered highway maintenance fund, unless, of course, CASA needs extra money to support the drive to require petition notarization.


I understand what’s going on. It’s just hard to say it politely. We are being hornswaggled, freely and regularly, without even much attempt at secrecy. The people we elect, based on what they say they’re going to do, go on to do what they didn’t say they were going to do. Sometimes they even call it conscience.


Ron Young has a friend whose son died in a tragic accident related to a rotten balcony rail, so he thinks Maryland should create a specific balcony inspection department or something, when we already inspect buildings.


Some of this information appears in the newspaper occasionally. It can be found online by looking at reports the state is required to post. If not published, it can be obtained through a freedom of information request.


What I don’t understand is why people are not having fits about all this. I don’t understand why people don’t think Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2016 presidential aspirations after his performance in Maryland are ludicrous, and why people don’t think he should be ridden out of town on a rail “tarred and feathered” instead.


Do you think that, when our alarms sound in the morning, a voice speaks quietly into our ears saying "Get up now. Walk to the toilet. Shower. Drink coffee. Go to your car. Go make money. Buy the new front loading washer like your neighbor has. Don’t pay attention to anything relating to government.”


It's got to be that, or else people would be outraged.


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