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As Long as We Remember...

December 31, 2012

Some Good Legislative Proposals

Jill King

The Frederick County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly is looking to offer some interesting legislation in the upcoming session, which begins in earnest January 9.


Third District Democrat Sen. Ron Young's proposal for tolls on U. S. 15, Third District Republican Del. Patrick Hogan's bill in response to the Newtown (CT) shooting tragedy, and Fourth District Republican Del. Kelly Schulz proposal to put liquor license fees back into county coffer that supports the liquor board operations, are among those drawing the most attention.


Senator Young's bill may not be heading to an actual piece of legislation because of the lack of interest. He is still looking at the topic in order to fill the void that was caused by overspending by state Democrats, through their constant shifting of funds, thereby depleting of the Transportation Trust fund.


Senator Young’s proposal is not an original idea, but was one that has similarities to that of County Commissioner Lennie Thompson, who proposed something similar for I-270.


The toll idea is a fond one in the General Assembly, who created the Inner-County Connector (ICC) or Route 200, enabling people to chose a faster manner in which to travel, without the burden of extra traffic yet with a fee.


There are several issues when it comes to this: growth, wages, and lack of taxation for those crossing state and county lines.


With Maryland lacking a business friendly nature, fully supportive of federal and state governments, and funding numerous bio-tech industries, it lacks good paying jobs outside of those it believes should exist here.


Many who live across state line do so because they could no longer afford to live in state and work in local jobs. Once the boom started with growth, the cost of living in Frederick County grew to meet what would meet with a Montgomery County or Washington salary. The same happened to citizens who lived in these areas. The cost of livings rose to the point that they couldn't afford the housing or taxation, therefore the additional cost associated with long distance travel to work – gas prices and wear and tear on one’s vehicle – was a small price to pay.


One of the best measures Senator Young could look at – before increasing any more taxes – would be to lead a charge in examining a possible reduction in the donations of tax dollars to the numerous not-for-profits that the state hosts. The pandering by the state politicians to these pet interest groups, in exchange for votes, is why we are failing.


Balancing a budget of any kind comes from cuts, not just increasing taxes.


Hopefully, this year we will have some legislators with the guts year to say enough is enough. We have to stop raising taxes and increasing fees and find ways to cut the spending, maybe even put a lock and key on the Transportation Trust fund, forcing legislators to spend the money only where it is designated.


Next up is a bill proposed by Delegate Hogan. In response to the Newtown tragedy many legislators locally and nationally are seeking resolution via legislation as a preventative measure. The only problem with preventative measures is that there is never a plausible solution that will prevent any such incident from ever happening. Typically, this is a symptom solver and a feel-good policy, with no real solution. There are too many variables and never enough insight as to the full range of potential possibilities of how or why these events occur.


If we make schools safe, who will be the next target? If we start diagnosing mental issues as a means of gun control, who will be missed and to what extent would a mental disorder go? Depression can be a short term illness, with many causes. If they would like to decrease mental illness, first they need to solve the fiscal issues so people aren't feeling the pinches of the economy.


Delegate Schulz's bill to bring the coffers back to the counties for alcohol licenses and fees is commendable.


Since the state legislation has controls over alcohol policy and regulation, along with education, this is a smart offering that would keep the businesses from being taxed twice, once for the license and a second time for the makeup fees that are necessary to fund the liquor board and its inspectors, picked up by a shortfall from the state and paid for by the county.


When we look into the charges created by the state, there are some that overlap, causing double taxation. This is just not good policy.


Kudos goes out to Delegate Schultz for uncovering some of the measures that create extra costs to all taxpayers because of bad bills and legislation.


Hopefully, our legislative bodies will look at all of the angles and determine the difference between feel good policies that create of more taxes/fees and those feel good measures, instead of hunkering down and cutting out the pandering and needless spending, and place themselves in the taxpayers shoes. The trickle-down effects are being seen across the state, where people are forced to move, close up shop, or have great difficulties in bouncing back in this economy.


Now is also the time to make the unpopular decisions. Respect will be provided to those deserving, not those who are career politicians and only seeking to pander to their base.


Retraining my brain for the future, conferring with the past....


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