Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Wind from Maryland's Governor

from the Baltimore Sun:
Electricity customers would pay a maximum of $2 extra per month if Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to create an offshore wind farm gains passage this year.The rate increase limit would extend for the life of the 25-year contract and be indexed to 2011 dollars under administration's latest compromise, aimed at allaying legislators' concerns about cost. Earlier, O'Malley had pitched a $2 cap in the first year only. Senators have been so nervous about the bill that they floated the idea of a study.

"We've always believed the cost would be lower than $2, which is why the amendment wasn't there in the first place," said Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for O'Malley. "Working with legislators, the original amendment was to provide some certainty where legislators said it didn't exist."

The new amendment, Adamec said, "is an extension of that certainty. We believe costs will go down after the first year."

Some lawmakers have said the cost of offshore wind is likely to be far higher than the administration believes.

Economic Matters Chairman Dereck E. Davis said the extended $2 increase limit "certainly is helpful."

Davis, a Prince George's County Democrat, said his committee would continue working on the bill all week and could vote on it as soon as early next week.

Asked whether there are enough votes on his committee to move the bill to the floor, Davis said, "more members are growing comfortable with the idea."

The legislation also is being considered by the Senate Finance Committee.

Business columnist Jay Hancock has a discussion about the wind proposal over on his blog.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Maryland Teachers Offer Minimal Pension Concessions

from the Baltimore Sun
Maryland's largest teachers' union has offered their own pension compromise that that leaves large chunks of Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal unchanged.

The Maryland State Education Association, a 71,000 member union, would go along with O'Malley's proposed higher contribution rate (5 percent to 7 percent), though the new rate would phase in over two years, according to a presentation MSEA emailed around Annapolis Wednesday.

They also accept O'Malley's proposal to that new hires would have to work for 30 years before retiring.

The most meaningful difference is over the tricky area of average final compensation -- the figure used to determine the size of they pension check: Teachers want it to be calculated as the average pay over their last three years. O'Malley's plan would extend that time period to five years, diluting the final salary in most cases.

The union plan is tougher on younger employees than O'Malley's: Those who are not currently vested would have to work for ten years in order to receive benefits, under the union plan. O'Malley said new hires would have to the ten years, but current employees could still vest in five.

Pat Moran, president of the Maryland chapter of AFSCME, with said today that his union is largely supportive of the teachers idea.

The House of Delegates is expected to debate O'Malley's pension plan this evening when the comb through the budget in an evening session that could stretch to midnight.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Update from the Maryland House of Delegates

from the Harford County Dagger

Dear Friends,

The budget bill is one week behind because of all the actions taken on the gay marraige issue. Today, we are moving the budget out of the Appropriations Committee. Next week will be budget, budget budget!

Direct Shipment of Wine:
For a number years, legislation has been introduced to allow consumers to have wine shipped directly to their home. I am a cosponsor of this measure. It looks like we may get a wine bill passed this year!

Stay tuned as I keep you updated on this very popular issue.

Wine shipping has been in front of the legislature for at least 10 years – maybe 2011 will be a good year for wine!

More on Instate Tuition Discounts for Illegal Immigrants
The Senate passed SB 167, which will grant instate tuition for “undocumented immigrants.” It is now under serious consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee but has not moved out of that committee yet.

Just this week, we had a compelling testimony in favor of a brilliant measure that will help foster kids have better access to a college education. I was surprised to find the Maryland Association of Community Colleges opposing a measure to help foster kids while supporting a measure to help illegal aliens get a college education.

Most troubling is the philosophy of our state community colleges that supporting those here in our state illegally would be “good public policy” while helping our foster kids, the most vulnerable and needy orphans in our state, would not be worthy of public support.

It can be a crazy mixed up world in Annapolis. I hope we can help the foster kids (there are only 88 currently in the program) have better access to a college education. Wouldn’t it be great if we could reach out to more foster kids and get them into college!

Rallies and Visitors:
The March for Life on Monday night was GREAT! Raven’s player, Matt Birk, was one of the speakers. What a great guy – a Harvard graduate with an economics degree – stood tall for Life and rallied the crowd.

Two visitors this week: Wesley Harris, homeschooled junior and Sam Kahl, homeschooled sophomore. Wesley came to Annapolis to see how things work in Annapolis. Sam was here to see the legislature and he also help out in our office. Thanks, Sam!!

There was a union rally and march on the State House on Monday night also. Union members were in Annapolis to let Governor O’Malley know that they are not happy with the proposed changes to their pensions and considered cuts. What was really funny was that Governor O’Malley addressed the huge union crowd and told them that he did not like the budget either. Funny because it’s HIS budget!! In Maryland, the governor submits the budget and has the power of the purse. The legislature can only cut the governor’s budget.

If you would like to come visit Annapolis while the General Assembly is in session, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

The Budget:
As you know, I am on the Appropriations Committee. We are working VERY hard and I will have more information for you next week. My committee will be working in Annapolis late into the night today to pass out a budget. I can’t wait to share this information with you next week!

I will tell you that the governor is transfering money out of every account he can find. In some cases, he is borrowing money to repay these transfers, like Program Open Space and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund. Taxpayers then get to pay more than once for some of these things (original fee plus interest and lending fees)

6:10 PM – live update from the Approps Committee:
Republicans move to reject the Capital Budget BRFA – bad public policy to spend special funds and borrow money to repay it. Also, it’s repaid over two years, so we don’t have all the money we should right now – and we have to pay interest on it.

Republican motion to reject the Capital Budget BFRA fails.

Motion to keep the $90 million in the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (flush fee funded). That motion failed too. Instead Maryland will borrow money to pay back the flush fee fund, with interest. So much for “special funds” being special.

(The BRFA, Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, is the vehichle that the governor uses to transfer funds, raise fees, and other things.)

I’m hanging tough – voting against more taxes and fees!! Sometimes there are only 4 or 5 of us voting no, but I heard you loud and clear – NO MORE TAXES – you can count on me.

(BTW – Appropriations Committee is 25 members 7 Republicans)

Thanks for your continued support and encouragement. I am humbled and honored to be representing you and your family in Annapolis.
--Kathy Szeliga
Maryland House of Delegates

Monday, March 21, 2011

Say Goodbye to Energy Independence, Maryland

from the Maryland Daily Record
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland House of Delegates is set to vote this week on an effort to restrict drilling for natural gas in western Maryland.

Democratic Delegate Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County is pushing a bill to severely limit when the state can issue drilling permits.

If the House approves it Tuesday, the bill would still need the approval of the Senate and Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Oil and gas companies are seeking permission from many East Coast governments to access the multi-state Marcellus Shale. The formation holds large supplies of natural gas, but can only be accessed with hydraulic fracturing, a process environmentalists oppose.

A House committee last week rejected an effort by Republican Delegate Wendell Beitzel of Garrett County to require the Maryland Department of Environment to issue drilling permits.
I love the statement in the article, "a process environmentalists oppose". Are there ANY technically feasible energy extraction processes that environmentalists DON'T oppose in "some measure"? Not even the utopian environmentalist "holy grail" of "green hyrdrogen" passes THAT test.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

After Neglecting to Pass a Budget Last Year Comes the Realization That It's "No Way to Govern"

from the current reigning "Queen of the U.S. Senate"

from the Harford County Dagger
From the office of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski:

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) issued a statement on Senate passage of a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through April 8, 2011.

“Senate Democrats have initiated cuts,” Senator Mikulski said. “I am for cuts to programs that middle-class families don’t depend on for their survival. The biggest cut I want to make is to the unemployment rate.”

Senator Mikulski’s statement is full follows:

“I reluctantly support another short-term CR because I am absolutely against a government shutdown.

But enough is enough. We are six months into the fiscal year and no closer to having a budget than the day we started. The American people want a budget that is frugal, on their side and that brings stability to their lives. Both parties must come together and agree to sensible budget cuts for the remainder of this year and then tackle the items that are responsible for adding to our deficit.

“We cannot continue a cycle of cutting $2 billion every two weeks. That’s no way to govern. Even though many of the cuts in the new CR are cuts that I agree with, short-term CRs are a government shutdown by proxy. I don’t want a government shutdown. I’m fighting to prevent it. But we cannot fund the government with two- to three-week payments. It is bad for federal workers, contractors, families and the economy.

“Senate Democrats have initiated cuts. First we cut $41 billion from the President’s budget request. Then we offered to cut another $10 billion, for a total of $51 billion in cuts. But our offer was rejected. Republicans want to cut $100 billion. We met them halfway. But that wasn’t good enough. Whether we cut $100 billion at once or several billion at a time in short term CRs, this is not a strategy to reduce the deficit and will hurt middle-class families.

“I am for cuts. The biggest cut I want to make is to the unemployment rate. Last week, I voted for Chairman Inouye’s package with $51 billion in cuts. And in my own CJS bill, I’ve agreed to cut agency overhead by 10 percent, and cut agency party funds by 25 percent. I’m for making cuts to programs that middle-class families don’t depend on for their survival. Let’s end lavish subsidies for oil and gas companies to save $5 billion each year before we cut Head Start and Child Care by $1 billion. Let’s stop the tax breaks for corporations that send jobs overseas to save $5 billion before we cut afterschool programs by $100 million. Let’s stop subsidizing big agribusiness to save another $5 billion before we cut Pell Grants for middle-class kids by more than $600. And let’s end the war, which costs $1.1 billion a week in Iraq and $2.5 billion a week in Afghanistan, and bring our troops home before we ask our military men and women and their families to sacrifice any more for our country.

“The uncertainty of these short-term CRs is bad for workers and contractors. One hundred and thirty thousand federal employees and thousands more contractors live and work in Maryland. These are some of the most dedicated, hardworking people in our nation. They make sure the food we eat is safe, find cures for the most devastating diseases, and make sure seniors get their checks every month. At Goddard Space Flight Center in Prince George’s County there are 9,100 employees—3,400 civil servants and 5,700 contractors leading the world in green-science initiatives. Of these 9,100 workers, 65 percent are scientists, engineers and technicians taking us into the next century with research on the Earth and its climate, and leading missions to learn about the sun, moon, Mercury and Saturn.

“Maryland’s federal employees win Nobel Prizes. Dr. Bill Phillips of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg shared the 1997 Physics Nobel Prize for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light, making it possible for us to study atoms with unprecedented precision. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was one of his co-winners. Dr. Martin Rodbell of NIH shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of G-proteins and the principles of signal transduction in cellular communication. Dr. John C. Mather of NASA Goddard shared the 2006 Nobel in Physics for a discovery that has enabled precise measurements of the first moments of the universe.

“Whether they have won a Nobel Prize or provide the petri dishes or support services for this important work, these are hard-working federal employees and contractors who are duty and mission driven. “In Prince George’s County, I heard from a small business owner who does contract business with the government. Over the years she has grown her business with help from the Small Business Administration. Her company graduated from the SBA’s 8(a) business development program, which was created to help small and disadvantaged companies compete. By taking advantage of the resources offered like mentoring, business counseling, training, financial assistance and technical assistance she grew to a $43 million business based in Maryland with divisions in other states. She’s a success story. She asked me, “What should we do if the government shuts down?” She’s afraid that the gains she’s made could all be lost in a shutdown. At a time when we are seeing signs of economic recovery Congress should be nurturing this trend with predictable, stable funding for small business owners, not destroying it.

“Mr. President, I support federal employees and contractors. I support the mission of our government agencies and I support providing the money needed to carry out their mandates. But I don’t support a government shutdown.

“I support cuts. But cuts are not a strategy to reduce the deficit. Cuts are a tool, but they are not the only tool. We need a more thoughtful approach. We need a real strategy.

“I will vote for today’s CR, but we cannot continue to pass short-term spending bills. Both sides must come to agree on a long-term budget for remainder of fiscal year.
Funny, when she was busy ramming Obamacare through the Senate, her Constitutional Duty to craft an FY11 Budget just didn't all that important to her or her Democratic colleagues. And as the longest ever serving woman Senator, you'd have thought she would have learned that her neglect of her responsibilities shouldn't be argued as being someone else's problem. Does she think we FORGOT who's job it was to pass a budget last year? Does she believe that we're THAT stupid? By her complaint, that sure seems to be the case.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Another Union Organized Anti-Taxpayer Ruckus in Annapolis

Remember all that talk in Wisconsin about how the whole political context for the union demonstrators was over evil Republican attempts at "union busting" and NOT about money at all, that the supposedly fair minded union members acknowledged their citizens legitimate budget concerns and a COMPROMISE was on the table? Well that was ALL a lie for publicity purposes. In an overwhelmingly Democratic State with a sympathetic union sycophant for a Governor, the unions are raising a ruckus again.

from the Baltimore Sun
As Maryland lawmakers prepare to make decisions in the coming weeks on budget cuts and pension reform, thousands of union members on Monday marched on Annapolis to send a message.

The marchers were met by a counter-protest, organized by tea party activists, of several dozen taxpayers asking for deeper state budget cuts.

The union group was large enough to cut off traffic on downtown Annapolis streets, Chanting, "keep the promise" and "enough is enough," they decried efforts by Gov. Martin O'Malley and legislators to change employee contributions to their retirement plans, a move that would save the state an estimated $100 million next year.

The many teachers in the audience also spoke out against the governor's planned level-funding of K-12 schools. If the proposal is adopted by state lawmakers, Baltimore would receive $15 million less and Prince George’s County $16 million less than they were slated to receive next year under the state’s education funding formula.

One after another, state workers took the stage to tell their stories to an audience that organizers said reached about 15,000.

Each was meant to illustrate a complaint.

Jeanette Taylor, a parole and probation worker said she had "answered the call" and taken a pay cut a few years ago to become a state employee. In her mid-50s, she said some of the pension plans under consideration would force her to work until age 78.

She rallied the crowd: "Leave the pensions alone."

Retired prison maintenance employee Ernie Prince talked about health problems he and his wife have endured (diabetes, two brain surgeries, breast cancer). He said he now pays $124 in prescriptions each month, and under reforms being considered by the state, he would pay $409 per month -- leaving little money, he said, for food and other expenses.

"I just don't have it," he said. "I kept my promise to the state of Maryland. Brothers and sisters -- enough is enough!"

At the conclusion of the rally, O'Malley, a Democrat who drew broad union support in his election campaigns, made an unexpected appearance. He told workers that he, too, is unhappy with the budget.

Last month, O’Malley and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest group of state workers, reached a deal on a three-year contract that allows for raises if state revenue increases. The deal also contains a $750 bonus this year, and for the first time in three years guarantees that workers will not be furloughed.

Union leaders acknowledged Monday that Maryland doesn’t face the collective bargaining struggles they’re seeing in other states. Still, the rally was meant to "send a message that we’re all standing together," Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in an interview.

Union members want to tell elected officials that budget woes "shouldn’t fall only on the backs of workers," he said.

State workers were met by a counter-protest, organized by tea party activists, of citizens who believe the state should do more to reduce spending. They floated pink pig balloons and wore snouts as a way to call out budget fat.

Many hoisted signs supportive of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who recently ended largely collective bargaining for employees in that state.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gay Marriage in Maryland - I'll be Back!

Excerpts from the Washington Times
“Oh, it’s dead,” said committee member and Delegate Curt Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat who co-sponsored the bill. “When you resubmit a bill to the judiciary committee, you probably won’t see it anymore this year.”

“It was incredibly, razor-thin close, but we couldn’t be assured,” said Mrs. Mizeur, who gave an impassioned speech during the debate asking her colleagues to vote “in favor of love.”

“This will allow us to continue to work to firm those commitments up,” she said.

Both sides acknowledged Friday they were at a stalemate but that the issue likely will be revisited next year.

“I’m just relieved that we don’t have to go through the petition (or referendum) process,” said Delegate Michael Hough, a Frederick Republican who opposed the bill.
“But at the same time, the issue is going to come back.”
Meanwhile, the Bill to persecute and intimidate those who would collect signatures for said fall-back/repeal petition (HB 101) continues to move through State Legislature.
Detailed story from the Baltimore Sun

Update 4/12 Legislature adds insult to injury on gays by rejecting Transgender Equity Bill in an Assembly with a 2/3+ DNC advantage. *Snap!*

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gay Marriage Doesn't Have the Votes in Maryland...this Year

from the Baltimore Sun
Debate on whether Maryland should legalize same-sex marriage has ended for the year, without the House of Delegates weighing in on the divisive issue.

Instead of voting as planned today, the House moved the bill backward -- returning it to the committee that nearly killed it last week. House Speaker Michael E. Busch said his chamber won't see the issue on the floor again this year, even though the Senate passed it last month by a vote of 25-21.

By moving the bill back into committee rather than taking a final vote, the 141 delegates avoided putting on record their position on gay marriage.

Had a vote been taken today, it would have come within a delegate or two of passage, House leaders said. Advocates believe they were a single vote shy.

"The vote would have been very close on the floor, make no mistake about it," said Busch, who supports same-sex marriage.

About 10 delegates did not feel comfortable casting a vote today, Busch said, and wanted more time to learn about what the bill would do.

The move back to committee came after more than two hours of impassioned speeches.

Several openly gay lawmakers made personal appeals to their colleagues, while some religious lawmakers said they could not turn away from their deeply held beliefs.

The House fell silent as Del. Heather Mizeur, who is Catholic and is openly gay, said she is an old soul and knew she was gay and also deeply spiritual at a young age. She said she also knew she wanted to be an elected official. God, she said, has helped her reconcile those roles. She concluded by telling her colleagues she loved them.

Earlier, Del. Steve Schuh had made the case that many of the lawmakers who had planned to vote no -- like himself -- are not against gay people but merely do not want to expand the state's definition of marriage. The Anne Arundel Republican said marriage is subsidized by the state to ensure procreation.

Advocates worked furiously last night to secure support from a handful of delegates who had not disclosed their voting plans, even entertaining a late attempt at giving additional protection to religious groups who do not condone gay marriage.

Dozens of supporters and opponents filled the House galleries to watch the historic debate. This year marked the first time the General Assembly debated gay marriage on its chamber floors.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

MD's Illegals to Pay In-State Tuition - Can You Spell M-o-r-a-l H-a-z-a-r-d?

from the Baltimore Sun
The state Senate has given preliminary approval to a measure that allows illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition at colleges and universities, overcoming the objections of some who said the proposal is too costly, violates federal law and will displace U.S. citizens.

The bill, called the Maryland DREAM Act, passed Wednesday evening after six hours of debate that spilled into a rare evening session. The Senate is expected to vote on final passage on Monday. Wednesday’s vote is a strong signal that the measure will be successful.

Strong emotions flared during the debate on both sides, with proponents arguing that educating a larger pool of residents ultimately benefits the state because they will have higher-paying jobs and contribute more to the tax base.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky said the bill would give children the chance to “be more than part of the underground economy flipping burgers,” offering them the opportunity to become doctors, engineers and scientists.

“Why should we say: ‘You have to have a low end job for the rest of your life?’ " the Prince George’s County Democrat asked.

Sen. David Brinkley said the measure is unaffordable.

“The issue is not denying education to the individuals,” the Frederick County Republican said. “We disagree that the state has to pay for it.”

Ten other states grant illegal immigrants in-state tuition. Opponents said that passage would advertise Maryland as “sanctuary state," drawing more undocumented workers.

MD Democrats Ignore Economy, Concentrate on Ramming Radical Social Agenda Through the Legislature

from the Washington Examiner
Maryland is facing a $1.6 billion shortfall in the state budget. Gas prices are climbing toward $4 a gallon. And unemployment remains stubbornly high.

Still, the Maryland General Assembly had other priorities Wednesday. The House was debating same-sex marriage and the Senate was wrestling with whether illegal immigrants should get a break on college tuition.

Despite the fiscal woes facing the state and the country, the 2011 session in Maryland has been dominated by such social issues, including whether to legalize medical marijuana. Some observers argue that, given voters' concerns about the economy, legislators should hone in on getting the state's fiscal house in order first.

"Some people are saying precisely that: 'We need to put all our attention on the budget,' " said Matthew Crenson, professor emeritus in the Johns Hopkins University political science department. "They're very concerned about gasoline taxes and what's going to be cut in order to cover the deficit."

Count Del. Don Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel, among them.

"I think the fiscal crisis that Maryland faces should have been the most important piece of business," said Dwyer. "Are these issues that are so important that [they] should overshadow the state budget crisis? I don't think so."

But Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, dismissed the notion that the budget has been placed on the back burner.

"Ignoring the budget is not an option, and I don't think anyone in the legislature is doing that," he said. "I don't think you hear from sitting in these hearings that it's being ignored."

Maryland lawmakers considered a gay marriage proposal last year, only to see the legislation die in a year in which they and O'Malley were up for re-election.

Tough decisions on such "inherently divisive" issues have been timed to have a minimal impact on elections, Crenson said.

"I don't think it's fair to place any weight on when something is considered and when it's not," Adamec countered. "Things come up when they come up."

Across the Potomac in Virginia, meanwhile, many of these social issues were largely settled in recent years. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, and the state has some of the toughest immigration laws in the country.

"Gay marriage would be DOA in either chamber in Virginia, and so there's no need to talk about it in Richmond," said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of communication at George Mason University.

Not that Virginia legislators were able to avoid social issues in 2011. Pro-life advocates won a major victory when the legislature approved a measure to tighten regulations on abortion clinics that is now in front of Gov. Bob McDonnell.

But again, Maryland legislators won't have to face voters until 2012, while Virginia lawmakers are up for re-election this year -- with new district lines and constituents to deal with.

"That makes people very cautious," Farnsworth said. "Even though both states are spending some time talking about social issues, the 800-pound gorilla in the room for every government is how to balance state budgets."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

$1M Pledge of DOMA Support

from the Baltimore Sun:
The National Organization for Marriage today pledged at least $1 million to help defeat Republicans who favor same-sex marriage and assist the campaigns of Democrats who oppose it.

The announcement came as the Maryland House of Delegates today moved the legislation a step closer to a final vote. More debate is planned for Friday, and it is unclear whether the marriage bill has the 71 votes needed for passage.

"We know where the people of Maryland stand, and legislators need to listen to their constituents," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "If they don't, we're here to help hold them accountable."

The national group says it will form a political action committee in Maryland with the aim of ousting Republicans who "abandon the party position," Brown said. Money also will flow to Democrats who vote against the same-sex marriage bill, he said.

The only legislator specifically in NOM's crosshairs so far is Sen. Allan H. Kittleman of Howard County. He was the lone Republican senator to vote in favor of the bill.

Brown said NOM will be closely watching how Republican delegates vote.

House Republicans decided as a group to take a caucus position againts same-sex marriage, and leaders of the minority party say they believe each of their 43 members will vote against the bill.

Brown said NOM has a perfect record when it comes to defeating Republicans who support gay marriage.

"Every Republican we've ever targeted, we've defeated," he said. The group helped oust four Republicans, in California, Minnesota and New Hampshire, he said.

Brown said the National Organization for Marriage has been working behind the scenes in Maryland, contacting more than 500,000 voters through the mail or phone calls. The group urges those voters to call their legislators.

According to lawmakers, they've been doing so in large numbers. Several delegates said during today's floor debate that they had never heard from so many people on a single issue.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, Show Your Concern!

From the Harford County Dagger:

From the Harford Campaign for Liberty:
Who? YOU, the Taxpayer – an Owner of Harford County

What? YOUR Harford County Budget – That’s right!

It begins with a “B” and ends with a “T” and that stands for “Taxes!”

Why? Because,
– The County Budget pays for all services and functions — good and bad

–YOUR taxes and the level of services are directly affected by the Budget

–Next year’s revenues are not likely to increase. That means there’s no money coming in to cover any additional expenditure(s).

–Next year’s expenditures could be at least $30 MILLION more, if the Board of Education and Harford Community College budgets are passed

–YOUR property taxes could increase significantly to pay for this

–If you fail to speak up now, YOU could suffer serious, economic consequences!


County Executive’s Blog
Or call at 410.638.3350


County Council Meeting – Next Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 7:30 pm, AA Roberty Building, 102 S. Hickory Ave Bel Air (Park in garage.)

When? TODAY!
Email the County Executive and ask him to post a blog because you would like to establish dialog on the 2012 budget.

Next Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Attend this County Council meeting

How? Simply e-mail or call the County Executive. Tell him your worries about the economy. Ask him to post this topic on his blog for open discussion.

Attend the County Council meeting and voice your concerns and/or support those people who will be sharing your uneasiness

Download the “2011 Budget in Brief” to see how your money is spent.



Understand we are all in this boat together.

We could all sink under the weight of additional property taxes.
E-mail this to your neighbors!
Print it out and personally give it to them!
Stay tuned in for next week’s important e-mail update on this issue!

Let us know what the County Executive says about the budget!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Is Charity (and Therefore Humanity) Lost Through the Practice of Politics?

The three Catholic Virtues... Faith, Hope and Charity

On Charity (from Wikipedia)
In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of charity requires interpreting a speaker's statements to be rational and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation. In its narrowest sense, the goal of this methodological principle is to avoid attributing irrationality, logical fallacies or falsehoods to the others' statements, when a coherent, rational interpretation of the statements is available. According to Simon Blackburn "it constrains the interpreter to maximize the truth or rationality in the subject's sayings."

Neil L. Wilson gave the principle its name in 1958–59. Willard Van Orman Quine and Donald Davidson provide other formulations of the principle of charity. Davidson sometimes referred to it as the principle of rational accommodation. He summarized it: We make maximum sense of the words and thoughts of others when we interpret in a way that optimises agreement. The principle may be invoked to make sense of a speaker's utterances when one is unsure of their meaning. In particular, Quine's use of the principle gives it this latter, wide domain.

Since the time of Quine et al., other philosophers have formulated at least four versions of the principle of charity. These alternatives may conflict with one another, so that charity becomes a matter of taste. The four principles are:

1. The other uses words in the ordinary way;
2. The other makes true statements;
3. The other makes valid arguments;
4. The other says something interesting.

A related principle is the principle of humanity, which states that we must assume that another speaker's beliefs and desires are connected to each other and to reality in some way, and attribute to him or her "the propositional attitudes one supposes one would have oneself in those circumstances" (Daniel Dennett, "Mid-Term Examination," in The Intentional Stance, p. 343).
When was the last time you gave your political opponent the benefit of the doubt and did not attribute ill intentions as to his possible motives?

Madison spoke of the need to separate Church and State, but who today speaks of the need to separate "charity" and State? Charity/Love has long been presumed by the universal Catholic Church to be the "highest" of all theological/religious virtues. And in our government today, do not our politicians also preach of the need to tax the more prosperous and redistribute that wealth in the interest of "charity" and the well-being of the less fortunate, much as one might hear typically preached on Sunday morning from a church pulpit? From Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments":
Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entagled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?

Because the Bill violates the equality which ought to be the basis of every law, and which is more indispensible, in proportion as the validity or expediency of any law is more liable to be impeached. If "all men are by nature equally free and independent," all men are to be considered as entering into Society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more, and therefore retaining no less, one than another, of their natural rights. Above all are they to be considered as retaining an "equal title to the free exercise of Religion according to the dictates of Conscience." Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offence against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered. As the Bill violates equality by subjecting some to peculiar burdens, so it violates the same principle, by granting to others peculiar exemptions. Are the quakers and Menonists the only sects who think a compulsive support of their Religions unnecessary and unwarrantable? can their piety alone be entrusted with the care of public worship? Ought their Religions to be endowed above all others with extraordinary privileges by which proselytes may be enticed from all others? We think too favorably of the justice and good sense of these demoninations to believe that they either covet pre-eminences over their fellow citizens or that they will be seduced by them from the common opposition to the measure.
No wonder American politics has gotten so bitter and ugly. No wonder the electorate is so divided. The secular humanists elected to government office have used the force and expediency of government to perform "charitable" acts, acts more suited to and in which "virtue" still exists through voluntarily performance by religious and/or non-governmental institutions. And in so doing, have these government politicians not created a de facto "secular religion" in direct contravention to the First Amendment's "Establishment Clause" whose highest "civic" virtue" is ow a formerly "religious" Catholic one?

And what of the electorate that has now lost all feelings of "charity" towards one another and clamor for ever greater acts of similar so-called charity on the part of government? Are they not attempting to force an ever more powerful secular religion down the rest of our throats? Yet every time we open our mouths to object, we are accused of being racists with naught but ill intent and violent tendencies that need be checked.

So where is your "charity", my progressive liberal friend? Is your "charity" reserved only for upon whom you might bestow some other forcefully derived, and therefore stolen, governmental distributed benefit? What became of your once much vaunted fraternite towards your fellow citizens? Perhaps like all forcibly extracted government distributed benefits, the "virtue" inherent in the act has been lost. And with it, perhaps, all honestly bestowed feelings of humanity and charity towards your fellow man are lost as well.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Marylander's - Please Contact Your Representatives in Annapolis

...and be SURE to sign a petition to force a referendum on any Gay Marriage Law that might yet get approved by the General Assembly or governor but that has yet to take effect. A successful petition will block the law’s implementation until 30 days after a referendum vote in the next statewide election.

From the Harford County Dagger and the office of Del. Rick Impallaria:
The House Judiciary Committee just voted to approve HB 175 – the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage” Act, otherwise known as the Gay Marriage Bill.

Chairmen of committees do not normally vote on bills unless there is a tie. So the deciding vote was cast by Delegate Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. of Prince George’s County to move the bill out of committe with a favorable report, and to send it to the full House.

Also today, Democrats in the House voted on a bill to make it harder for citizens to petition the government, HB 101 – Election Law – Petitions and Ballot Issues – Prohibited Actions. If enacted into law, people collecting signatures on a referendum petition could be charged with an offense if a person they asked to sign “felt intimidated”. This will make it even harder to petition the government for redress of grievances, a right guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution.

Contact the members of the House of Delegates to voice your opinion.

Rick Impallaria
Delegate, District 7
The only possible reason for the timing of HB 101 above would be to discourage legitimate, but unseasoned, political activists (Tea Party Conservatives) from gathering signatures on a petition to allow voters to decide the Maryland Gay Marriage issue after it passes the House. It's a move designed to intimidate naive political activists, not the professional activist class on the Left. Are you intimidated? I didn't think so.... but your political voice IS at stake, so please, contact your State Assembly Representatives and tell them to vote NO on Gay Marriage and NO on HB 101!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gay Marriage Likely to Go to Ballot Box in MD

from the Washington Times
Opponents of a Maryland same-sex marriage bill are preparing for its passage in the General Assembly by directing their efforts to a referendum that would delay implementation of the measure until December 2012 at the earliest.

The bill, called the Civil Marriage Protection Act, passed the state Senate on Thursday and is before the House of Delegates, where supporters say they are only a handful of votes short of the 71 needed to approve the measure. Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has indicated that he would sign the bill.

But opponents are also looking beyond the vote to a Maryland law that allows residents to circulate a petition to force a referendum on a law approved by the General Assembly or governor but that has yet to take effect. A successful petition blocks the law’s implementation until 30 days after a referendum vote in the next statewide election.

“I can assure you that, should this bill come out of the House, it will go to referendum,” Delegate Don H. Dwyer Jr., Anne Arundel Republican and a prominent opponent of gay marriage, said Monday. Mr. Dwyer said a referendum effort will begin as soon as the House passes the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs, Harford Republican, suggested that the option of taking the issue to a public vote was one reason why the bill passed the Senate last week with scant opposition.

“You will see it again, and you will see it at the ballot box,” Mrs. Jacobs said. “When we knew that we did not have the votes, that’s what we started investing our time in.”

Delegate Curtis S. Anderson, Baltimore Democrat and bill co-sponsor, estimated the bill has 68 or 69 “firm supporters,” just two or three short of the 71 needed to pass. He said he expects the House to vote on the bill Friday.

Delegate Kathryn L. Afzali, Frederick Republican and opponent of the bill, acknowledged Friday that Republicans “don’t really have enough votes to overturn this.”

Regardless of the outcome in the House, many legislators said they expect the issue to be decided by referendum. To force a referendum, organizers would have to collect signatures from 55,737 of the state’s registered voters, said Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, a Democrat. The number is equal to 3 percent of the nearly 1.9 million voters who cast ballots in the November gubernatorial election.

At least one-third of the required signatures would have to be submitted by May 31 to the state Board of Elections. The remaining signatures would have to be submitted by June 30.

No more than half of the signatures could come from the city of Baltimore or a single county, and the signees would not be required to have voted last fall. Mr. Gansler would have to approve the petition beforehand, and the signatures ultimately would be filed with Maryland Secretary of State John P. McDonough and reviewed by the state Board of Elections.

Gay marriage has been rejected by referendum in all 31 states where it has appeared on a ballot, leaving politicians and analysts to wonder whether Maryland will continue or break the trend.

No state has approved gay marriage by referendum, but nationwide support for such unions has grown steadily in recent years. If the legislation is enacted, Maryland would become the sixth state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow gay marriage.

A January study by Annapolis-based Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies Inc. showed 51 percent of statewide respondents favored legalizing gay marriage in Maryland while 44.1 percent opposed it.

Delegate Doyle L. Niemann, Prince George’s Democrat, said he expects support to grow as Marylanders see how same-sex marriage laws in other states have not brought the catastrophic effects many opponents have predicted, such as endless discrimination lawsuits and declines in heterosexual marriage rates.

“People have found that the world doesn’t fall apart,” Mr. Niemann said. “Marriages don’t collapse, families don’t disappear, and the opposition goes way down.”

Mr. Dwyer said he expects conditions to be especially favorable for a “no” vote on Election Day 2012, as conservatives who oppose gay marriage turn out in support of a Republican presidential candidate and blacks — who have been shown in polls to oppose gay marriage more frequently than the general population — show up at the polls in support of President Obama.

Gay marriage is already looking to be a factor in the 2012 campaign. The Obama administration last week issued a decision to no longer defend in court part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said Sunday night that the president’s decision was an attempt to bolster his support among gay-rights activists and like-minded supporters.

He said the GOP-led House is considering a suggestion last week from potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum that the speaker appoint a special House counsel to take up the DOMA case in federal court.

“I’m really disappointed in the president and the Department of Justice in the fact that theyre not going to defend a law that Congress passed overwhelmingly,” Mr. Boehner told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “I’d be very surprised if the House didn’t decide that they were going to defend the law.”

Todd Eberly, interim director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said that while it is difficult to gauge the climate nearly two years from now, the black vote will be especially important in a referendum. He said he expects voters will continue to be driven more by economic than social issues in the election and that conservatives will be easily outnumbered, leaving black voters as the true wild card in a gay-marriage debate.

“For the proponents of same-sex marriage, they’ve got to speak to African-American voters on the concept of basic fairness,” Mr. Eberly said, adding that sentiment against gay marriage among blacks has come largely from religious influences and resentment over comparisons to the civil rights movement. “If proponents can make that case, then Maryland may be the first state to put this up to a ballot and uphold the law.”

Update 3/4 - Bill moves to House floor.