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THE STRATEGY

Visit this page every week for legislative analysis, issues that should cause concern and my strategy to move Maryland and the city of Baltimore forward. New articles will usually be posted on Tuesdays.

Doug Barry

Historian, Political Philosopher, Veteran


 The Strategy  February 11, 2014

THE 2014 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION - First Month Analysis

We are about five weeks into the current General Assembly session in Maryland. There have been nearly a thousand pieces of legislation proposed in the State Senate. In the House of Delegates, close to 1400 pieces of legislation have been proposed. There are dozens of proposals to create a state debt. There are unnecessary bills. A Republican Delegate in Frederick County has proposed legislation that would require the State to place signs on highways throughout Maryland, telling people to move out of the fast lane, along with requirements that would tie up traffic courts and draw police away from law and even traffic enforcement that is more important.

The General Assembly is making a third attempt to overturn a decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals (Maryland's highest court), that designated pit bulls as an inherently dangerous breed, without defining what a pit bull is. The court decision places liability not just on dog owners, but also on landlords. The problem with the legislative attempts is they are including extra provisions that make passage unlikely, with the consequence being that many of these dog owners will be forced to choose between getting rid of their dog, or not having a home. Simple legislation could fix the immediate problem, and other issues related to this could be resolved at later time.

For a second year in a row, there are attempts to enact rent control in Maryland, proposals that would significantly de-value property in Maryland, hamper one of the most important driving forces in the economy and bring down our neighborhoods. Senate Bill 904 would also add a new government Commission, new staff and increase the financial burden on property owners, all to accomplish something that isn't needed in Maryland.

There are multiple bills to raise the minimum wage. The Governor's proposal is the most modest and appears to have the most traction, but passage may depend on the ability of proponents to demonstrate that the impact on small business will not be too severe. While proponents site the salaries of CEOs of large corporations, in relation to employees that make the current minimum wage, they are generally quiet about the impact that might be felt by locally-owned businesses.

There are multiple, token proposals to cut different taxes, which are unlikely to pass, but noticeably absent are the corresponding cuts to the budget that would make these tax cuts possible. In order to avoid budget problems, each cut must accompanied by a corresponding cut in expenditures. Symbolism may be nice, but it does nothing to help the people of Maryland.