Slashed state funding may not be the only reason Howard Community College students face a tuition increase. The college itself wants to pay more and get less in supplies, equipment and building construction.
At the request of the college, the Howard County House delegation has introduced a bill that would increase procurement costs for the college. House Bill 347 effectively eliminates the present procedure which awards contracts to the "lowest responsible bidder," and instead permits contracts to be awarded according to the subjective standard of what is "most advantageous to the college." Just what is "most advantageous to the college" is unclear under the proposed legislation, but what is clear is that it does not mean lowest price . . .
This subjective use of public funds opens up the college procurement system to possible waste, fraud and abuse that could occur by removing the safeguards presently in place.
H.B. 347 will not be "advantageous" to present and prospective HCC students. If this bill passes, be prepared for tuition increases again next year.
Donald H. Spence Jr.
The Epilepsy Association of Maryland wishes to applaud Del. Virginia M. Thomas of Howard County for her continuing support of health care issues in the state legislature. In particular, we'd like to call your attention to House Bill 564 (Health Insurance -- Pre-existing Conditions), sponsored by Delegate Thomas during the 1993 session.
. . . There are several issues this legislation aims to deal with, the first of which is "portability."
Just because you leave or lose your job shouldn't mean you ever have to run out of health insurance benefits. It would also mean that whenever you return to a job that offers a different health plan, the time spent on your previous plan is credited to you (as long as 90 days has not elapsed between policies).
The other important element of this bill is that it will allow for pregnancy coverage even if one should become pregnant on the first day their policy goes into effect . . .
The writer is executive director of the Epilepsy Association of Maryland Inc.
The Howard County delegation in Annapolis has filed an ethics bill that raises questions rather then gives solutions. The ethics bill (House Bill 932) purports to provide a means to inform the public which developers are contributing large amounts of money to certain candidates or elected officials. Sounds good, until you read the bill. There are huge loopholes.
For example, in comprehensive rezoning cases, the county executive is the applicant, not the developer. It would be possible that a county executive could receive large contributions from developers and this would not be revealed during a comprehensive rezoning hearing. This is because the county executive and not the developer is the applicant.
Additionally, why are accountants, attorneys, architects, engineers, land use consultants, economic consultants, real estate agents, real estate brokers, traffic consultant or traffic engineers who are hired or retained by the developers not required to file contributions that they make to candidates or elected officials? It is conceivable that funds could be funneled through these individuals to the campaigns of persons who would eventually hear a zoning case.
L This bill is too flawed to be enacted as it now reads. . . .
The writer is president of the Columbia Democratic Club.
Just Don't Get It
Wanda Hurt and the Columbia Democratic Club's opposition to House Bill 932 shows just how out of touch the local Democratic Party is with the real people of Howard County.
This bill is simple. It requires a developer when applying for a re-zoning increase in land density to disclose any campaign contribution to a County Council member when the contribution exceeds $500 over a four-year period.
Council members, sitting as the Zoning Board, convey great financial rewards on an applicant when they increase the density of land. They also profoundly and forever change the surrounding neighborhoods . . .
A person only has to look at the recent re-zoning of Waverly Woods to see the need for the bill. Council member Shane Pendergrass received $2,250 in campaign contributions from the applicant but when confronted by a local reporter said, "I didn't know that. I wish you hadn't told me." She then went ahead and voted in favor of her contributor. H.B. 932 would make such a weak excuse impossible to use in the future.
Another council member, C. Vernon Gray, has received seven separate contributions totaling $1,980, all from the same address but from seven different entities, including limited partnerships.
It's extremely difficult to determine the faces behind the checks under current law. H.B. 932 would require all limited partners with a 5 percent interest to be disclosed.
The Howard County Ethics Bill is a big step forward toward better and more open government.
Public figures, like Wanda Hurt and Del. Virginia Thomas, who oppose the ethics bills and want to preserve our current zoning ** system, just don't get it.
Michael A. Grasso