Maryland GOP dings four bills
In a fund-raising e-mail today, Maryland GOP Chairman Jim Pelura sounds the alarm about what he sees as Democratic frivilousness (excuse me "Democrat" frivilousness) by highlighting four bills from the young legislative session. They are (with his commentary):
-SB 40: Sales and Use Tax - Snacks
Just what it sounds like, this bill levies a tax on snack food...what will they think of next!
-SB 41: Higher Education - Tuition Charges - Maryland High School Students
This bill award in-state tuition rates to Illegal Immigrants. That's right, in the face of a huge budget deficit, Senator David Harrington (and many of his colleagues) want to subsidize the college education of people who are in our country illegally.
-HB 6: Malfunctioning Traffic Light Act
Requires drivers to slow down when a traffic light is out at an intersection. Yes, that's right, someone actually put in a bill about this.
-HB 34: Environment - Impervious Surface - Statewide Database
Requires the Department of the Environment to maintain a statewide database of all impervious surfaces in the state. This means that the state would have a complete record of you and your neighbors' driveways as well as your deck or your business's parking lot. The state would have a record of any area with paving, gravel, stone, or shell. A little scary huh?
Looks like the early punching bag of the Republicans this year is Sen. David C. Harrington of Prince George's County. (He was appointed to the post in 2008 after the death of Sen. Gwendolyn Britt.) He sponsored both the snack tax and the in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants bills. Both of those ideas have been considered in Annapolis before, to no avail. A previous version of the tuition bill has come much closer to passage, and Gov. O'Malley has been on the record as supporting it.
On the House side, the traffic light bill is sponsored by Saqib Ali of Montgomery County, and could be related to a fatal Howard County accident in January 2006 in which a tractor-trailer ran through an intersection with a broken signal and killed two teens. The truck driver later acknowledged that he knew the signal was out. The impervious surface bill comes from Del. Jon Cardin of Baltimore County.
Fiscal analyses of those bills aren't available yet, so there's no way of knowing yet whether they would be as wasteful as Dr. Pelura suggests.