Towson legislators take stock of 2013 assembly

Despite mixed results in pushing local measures because local issues took a back seat to statewide issues such as gun reform and medical marijuana during this year's session, Towson's legislative contingent did help to craft some key bills passed during the Maryland General Assembly, which ended April 8 in Annapolis.

State Sen. Jim Brochin, a Democrat representing the 42nd District ,said he helped broker a compromise on a bill that makes driving while using a hand-held device a primary offense. The original bill added points to a driver's license, but Brochin, the Senate floor leader on the bill, took that aspect out of the bill.

"It was one of the better bills we passed," Brochin said several days after the session ended.

As part of the minority party, Republicans Del. Bill Frank and Del. Susan Aumann, also representing the 42nd District, had to take victories where they could while working with a majority party which Frank said "is just determined to be part of the liberal vanguard and is vying to be the bluest of the blue states."

Aumann said she thinks the gas tax passed this session "is going to have a big detrimental effect to the consumers," and thinks the reason for the tax to fund transportation services is "a little disingenuous" given how many people commute in Maryland.

Frank said he and Aumann were the only Republicans in the House to vote for repeal of the death penalty. Del. Stephen Lafferty, a third delegate representing the 42nd District and a Democrat, recalled that his colleague Frank did a "really awesome job" speaking on the matter on the House floor.

"I'm very much a pro-life legislator, and I came at it from a pro-life perspective," Frank said. "I really am not comfortable with the state executing people, even the worst of the worst."

But successes both large and small for Towson's representatives came at the expense of a bill several of the contingent feel strongly about: Adding elected representation to Baltimore County's school board.

Lafferty, Brochin, and Frank all expressed their regrets that the annual attempt to add elected members to Baltimore County's school board died in the Senate's county delegation.

All three initially expressed optimism last year after a version of the bill to put both elected and appointed members on the board was released onto the Senate floor. But the bill never got that far this year.

"Eventually, I think we'll pass it, but I was disappointed," Frank said.

Lafferty and Brochin were also disappointed by the lack of speed camera reform.

Brochin, however, thinks the biggest accomplishment of the legislative contingent from Towson took place before session began, when the legislators led a fight to save Towson Manor Park from being developed as the new site of the Towson fire station.

"If you ask me, the most important thing we did this year, myself and the delegates got together and stopped the county executive (Kevin Kamenetz) from pouring concrete over the park in East Towson and putting a fire station there," Brochin said. "We preserved public space."

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