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Bill Kennedy: Grateful for the end of the session

The first week of April has now come and gone, and with that so has the annual fiasco known as the General Assembly session.

This year's session, in contrast to the last couple, was a lot less contentious and had fewer hot button issues on the agenda to deal with since nearly all of the major pieces of legislation were on the governor's to do list. This, in and of its self, might not be a bad thing in states with a true two party system, but in our de-facto one party rule state it can and often does present a huge problem.

Compounding the problem of a lack of a really viable minority party that is actually considered part of the process is the fact that the two people with the leadership roles in the legislature seem to have stumbled all over themselves to curry favor with the governor, who has open aspirations for the highest office in the land.

The speaker of the House and the Senate president have, in the past, provided some loyal opposition to parts of the governor's agenda, but not this year. Major tax and fee increases, most notably the gasoline tax, which includes an interesting feature that provides for an increase in perpetuity that is tied to the consumer price index, questionable renewable energy policy and the repeal of the death penalty for any heinous crime all sailed through the legislature with whatever token resistance from the minority party totally disregarded.

The firearms legislation was one area where the debate was spirited, and the possibility of a petition to referendum is strong, but that too was pushed through just as the governor and his sycophant legislative leadership wanted.

In my humble opinion, the speaker and Senate president have been holding those posts far too long and need to be replaced with leaders with a more pragmatic view on how this state operates and a more realistic view on taxation and spending. Those now in power don't seem to understand that the citizenry isn't the proverbial money tree that can be picked clean this year and then grow back to be picked again the next year.

On a more local note, our Republican delegation to the legislature again showed that it has no influence or cachet with the rest of the legislature, and even on proposed legislation that affects only our little part of the world they can't get the leadership to even bring it to a vote by the full body. Sometimes, as was noted in this paper, the county delegation can't get their act together enough to agree on what needs to be done.

Legislation with wide based support, even from those who would be affected, got shot down at the last possible minute by a single member of the delegation because she thought that the agency in question wasn't working efficiently enough. Pardon me, but why was this not brought up when the proposal was being formulated? The fact that it affected one county function and would cost the exorbitant sum of $14,000, notwithstanding the timing of the dissent, to me is questionable.

At least, unless there is some dire emergency in need of another special session, we're done with the shenanigans in Annapolis for another year. For that we can all be grateful.

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