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MATTHEWS OPPOSES TAX

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Del. Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, referring to the proposed 5-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, said: "Those who want it are calling it a 'jobs bill' -- a bill to give local government back some of its lost state aid -- and 'a jumpstart for the state's lagging economy.' Indeed, they're calling it everything but what it is -- a tax increasethat will make Maryland's gas tax the fourth-highest in the nation."

The new gas tax would be 23.5 cents a gallon. Only Connecticut and Rhode Island at 26 cents and Nebraska at 23.8 cents per gallon are higher.

Matthews said that no matter what they call it, he's against the proposed increase.

"I'm against it in whatever form it comes: a flat 5 cents-per-gallon increase or the sales tax on the pump price, which would increase gas tax revenues automatically as the pump price rose and which would constitute a tax on a tax because existing federal and state gas taxes are included in the pump price."

He noted that with Delaware's gas tax at 19 cents a gallon and gas taxes in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Pennsylvania at 18 cents, 17.7 cents and 12 cents respectively, "it's a safe bet that many a Marylanderliving close to the state's borders will drive across the state lineto get their gas in Pennsylvania, where gas is already 6 cents a gallon cheaper."

Matthews said county executives from Baltimore, Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties have lined up to support the bill as a way to offset some part of the nearly $200 million in cuts to state aid. It is likely that some portion of the gas taxrevenues will be distributed to the counties to help them pay for services.

Many businesses, especially those concerned with construction, have voiced support of the tax.

"Only the people oppose the tax hike," Matthews said. "Four out of five AAA members oppose the tax. I have been overwhelmed with calls from people who oppose the gas tax hike."

The 5-cent increase would raise $625 million over the next five years and enable the state to claim $1.1 billion in federal transportation money. However, without it, the Schaefer administrationcould proceed with highway projects because federal law permits the states to defer payment of their 20 percent share for up to two years.

BOUNDARIES ADOPTED

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll willhave an entire legislative district contained within its borders forthe first time since the 1960s, under a redistricting plan adopted by the General Assembly Friday.

Carroll legislators praised the plan, saying it gives the county more influence in the legislature. The last two redistrictings -- a process in which political boundaries are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts -- left Carrollfragmented.

"I'm very happy, particularly when you have counties like Baltimore and Howard split into many districts," said Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll. "We're in an extremely favorable position. It's a big win for us."

The plan introduced by the governor became law automatically because no alternate plan was enacted or changes approved by the 45th day of the session. Legislators expect the plan will be challenged in court by Baltimore County lawmakers, who are unhappy about sharing a number of districts with Baltimore.

The new boundaries will take effect in the 1994 state election, barring legal action. Three delegates and one senator represent each of the state's 47 legislative districts, which have an ideal population of about 102,000.

District 5, with a population of 99,034, will consist of eastern and central Carroll.

District 5 currently includes a portion of western Baltimore County, which means Republican Sen. Larry E. Haines must divide his attention between the two counties.

The two subdistricts now constituting District 5 will be combined. Dixon and Del. Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, now represent District 5A, the lion's share of the county. The third delegate, Democrat Lawrence A. LaMotte, mostly represents Baltimore County residents in District 5B. LaMotte, who lives in Baltimore County, also represents two precincts inthe Eldersburg area.

Under the plan, one senator and one delegatewill represent 24,000 residents in western Carroll, part of District4. The senator also will represent about 75,000 constituents in Frederick County.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, currently represents District 4. Republican Del. Donald B. Elliottrepresents western Carroll and Howard in a subdistrict.

The subdistrict under the new plan includes 24,338 Carroll residents and 10,809 Frederick residents.

Howard County will be dropped from District4. The Myers election district, which includes Silver Run and Union Mills, will be switched from District 4 to District 5.

Carroll legislators have argued since last summer that the county should be keptintact with western Maryland districts, rather than fragmented amongBaltimore-area jurisdictions.

PROVIDE CARE FOR POOR

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

ANNAPOLIS -- Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, has introduced a bill that would require most nursing homes to dedicate one-third of their bed capacities to medical assistance program recipients.

Under the proposal, nursing homes providing comprehensiveor extended care would have to meet that requirement as a condition of receiving a license or license renewal. Certain nursing homes could gain exemptions.

LaMotte is one of a small group of delegates, including the Speaker of the House, working on structural changes in the way the state operates and finances medical assistance programs. These programs have been cut in the last two years and face more reductions next year.

STATUS OF CARROLL COUNTY'S LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

Bill

HB 446

Description of proposed legislation

Authorize county to borrow money to lend up to $2 million to 14 volunteer fire companies for capital improvements

Status (as of Friday)

Pending March 3 hearing, House Appropriations Committee

Bill

HB 1013

Description of proposed legislation

Authorize county to borrow $15 million through bond sale for public facility projects

Status (as of Friday)

Pending March 3 hearing, House Appropriations Committee

Bill

HB 1014

Description of proposed legislation

Enable commissioners to employ detention center inmates for public projects,contributing to rehabilitation

Status (as of Friday)

Pending Feb. 28 hearing, House Judiciary Committee

Bill

HB 1015

Description of proposed legislation

Authorize municipalities to grant payment deferral of property tax increases to certain elderly and disabled persons (submitted by Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, backed by Maryland Municipal League)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending Feb. 28 hearing, House Ways and Means Committee

Bill

HB 1149

Description of proposed legislation

Allow county government to investigate and abate weed nuisance complaints (12 inches growth or higher), at property owner's expense; function cut from Health Dept.

Pending Feb. 26 hearing, House Environmental Matters Committee

STATUS OF CARROLL COUNTY'S DELEGATION PACKAGE

Bill

HB 383

Description of proposed legislation

Require state health agency to recover equipment such as wheelchairs from Medical Assistance recipients whenno longer needed (Elliott)

Status (as of Friday)

Passed House,137-0; pending hearing, Senate Finance Committee

Bill

HB 395

Description of proposed legislation

Make it a misdemeanor to be a spectator at cockfights or dogfights (Elliott)

Status (as of Friday)

Passed House Judiciary Committee, 21-0; pending vote on Housefloor

Bill

HB 415

Description of proposed legislation

Require court to determine if convict sentenced to death should be granted counsel upon a first petition of sentence (Dixon)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, House Judiciary Committee

Bill

HB 425

Description of proposed legislation

Request $500,000 from thestate for Carroll County General Hospital's upgrade and expansion (Dixon)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending hearing, House Appropriations Committee

Bill

HB 444

Description of proposed legislation

Allows expungement of driving records under certain conditions (Dixon)

Status (as of Friday)

Passed, 121-5, House; pending hearing, Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee

Bill

HB 455

Description of proposed legislation

Require mining companies to pay property owners or repair damages caused by sinkholes within a predetermined zone (Dixon)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, House Environmental Matters Committee

Bill

HB 550

Description of proposed legislation

Establish pilot program in Carroll and Frederick permitting law enforcement officials to issue civil citation and fine students for truancy (Frederick delegation with Carroll delegation backing)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, House Constitutionaland Administrative Law Committee

Bill

HB 685

Description ofproposed legislation

Require state to approve mineral resource plans developed by local planning commissioners to determine whether designated mining areas are appropriate (Dixon)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, House Environmental Matters Committee

Bill

HB 686

Description of proposed legislation

Alter intent of mining law to say that other land uses should be considered, even where mineral resources exist (Dixon)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, House Environmental Matters Committee

Bill

HB 687

Description of proposed legislation

Increases fees and performance bond amounts for mining and upgrades land reclamation standards (Dixon)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, House Environmental Matters Committee

Bill

HB 688

Description of proposed legislation

Alter intent of mining law to say that mining must be conducted in a way to minimize effects on surrounding environment, and that non-mining land uses shall be preferred where possible (Dixon)

Status (as of Friday)

Withdrawn by Dixon

Bill

HB 758

Description of proposed legislation

Place alcohol restriction on driver's license of those convicted for a second or subsequent time of an alcohol-related driving offense (Matthews)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending Feb. 25 hearing, House Judiciary Committee

Bill

HB 892

Description of proposed legislation

Require social services agencies to expunge records of adult abuse investigations within 120 days in absence of supporting evidence (Elliott)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending Feb. 24 hearing, House Judiciary Committee

Bill

HB 966

Description of proposed legislation

Require the registration of all-terrain vehicles and create a fund for purchasing recreational land for riding (LaMotte)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, House Judiciary Committee

Bill

HB 1003

Description of proposed legislation

Promote rational growth management by requiring local jurisdictions to include certain elements in comprehensive plans and require state to review certain local land use laws for consistency (LaMotte)

Status (as of Friday)

Withdrawn by LaMotte

Bill

HB 1016

Description of proposed legislation

Revise Department of Human Resource methods for handling records and reports of abuse cases to protect rights of suspected abusers (Elliott)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending Feb. 24 hearing, House Judiciary Committee

Bill

HB 1420

Description of proposed legislation

Require courts to impose mandatory $25 surcharge on defendants convicted of, or grantedprobation before judgement, for drunken-driving offenses (Matthews)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending Feb. 25 hearing, House Judiciary Committee

Bill

SB 78

Description of proposed legislation

Require payment of fees for recording certain documents to counties, rather than circuit courts (Haines)

Status (as of Friday)

Passed, 9-0, Senate Budget and Taxation Committee; pending vote on Senate floor

Bill

SB 509

Description of proposed legislation

Maryland constitutional amendment guaranteeing right to keep and bear arms for defense of self, family, home, state and for hunting and recreation (Haines)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending March 10 hearing, Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee

Bill

SB 576

Description of proposed legislation

Require home sellers and agents to submit to prospective purchasers a property condition disclosure form containing pertinent information (Haines)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee

Bill

SB 710

Description of proposed legislation

Repeal prevailing wage law, which requires contractors to pay employees a state-established wage for government construction projects (Smelser)

Status (as of Friday)

Pending vote, Senate Finance Committee

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