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Kennedy: Little hope for a productive legislative session

The annual 90-day highly partisan exercise, also known as the Maryland legislative session, opened this past Wednesday. It began with the usual calls for bipartisanship and working together, but we all know how that has worked out historically. We can only hope that one day it might happen, but it won’t be in an election year.

As usual our all Republican cadre of county delegates and senators will go, hat in hand and on bended knee, to try to get legislation passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature that should be decided right here in Carroll County. Unfortunately for all of us, the political leadership in our fair jurisdiction doesn’t want any form of “home rule” which would allow things, such as the possible unification of the various volunteer fire companies, to be decided locally.

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As for items that would impact the state as a whole, Speaker of the House Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, both of whom have held their posts far too long in my opinion, are sure to deny the advancement of any bill that would allow for an independent committee to reconfigure the congressional and legislative districts, taking that task out of the hands of the legislature. Such a committee might just do away with the gerrymandered congressional districts that we’re now saddled with. They might also create at least one more with a majority of Republicans, which would throw the legislative leaders into a tizzy.

Another item that will not see the light of day during the session is the bill to limit the number of terms that a legislator may serve. There are simply too many who have made the legislature their career to ever allow that idea out of committee. Still another idea that will never get serious consideration during this session would be to take the casino money that was supposed to be dedicated to education and put that on top of the usual state education aid allocation. The legislature pulled a fast one on us when they allowed the casino revenues to be used instead of, rather than supplementing, the amount budgeted from our tax dollars.

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Gov. Larry Hogan has come forth with several ideas that merit serious consideration such as the protection of rape victims who become pregnant from the vile act, denying the rapist any parental rights to the child. Also he proposes increasing the penalties for those who engage in and profit from human trafficking. However, the Democrat controlled legislature will probably give his suggestions short shrift since they seem to be of the same view as our so-called representatives in Washington, party loyalty above doing the right thing for the constituents. (See the Republican tax overhaul.) Speaking of the federal tax legislation, it behooves our legislative brain trust to come up with a formula to mitigate the effects of that law on Maryland citizens and the credits and exemptions that have been erased from the federal code. There will also be a need to do something that will keep the children’s health plan available to our families.

There is much to do and not a whole lot of time to do it in so it’s time to concentrate on what matters to Marylanders and try to work around the foolishness that is emanating from Washington. Any delegate or senator who utters the name of Donald Trump in regards to any proposed legislation should be summarily dismissed from his post and be denied the opportunity to be re-elected in November.

I, for one, have little hope that much of substance and importance will be fairly considered and evaluated on its merits rather than following the party line and doing the bidding of the long entrenched House and Senate leadership.

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