LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Special session was a waste of time and money

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has again shown he doesn't understand his job. Calling the legislature into special session, at a cost of about $50,000 per day, to pass a medical liability "reform" bill that he had written and presented as a fait accompli, is not the way state government runs ("Ehrlich has veto ready for bill," Dec. 31).

The emergency session was a waste of time and money. The legislature will be back next week and can consider legislation then.

Second, legislation is not written by a governor; it is drafted by the legislature.

It is discussed, negotiated, compromised over and finally, with luck, a bill is created that can win the backing of both houses and then be sent to the governor.

The governor is, of course, entitled and even expected to participate in the process. But it is not his job to draft legislation and declare "my way or the highway" - "Pass this as is or expect whatever you do pass to be vetoed."

The fact that the governor's bill was a bad one only compounded the problem.

Having the state bail out the liability insurance companies only ensures that neither the medical profession nor the insurance companies will see any need to clean up their own acts.

And proposing state funding without a revenue source - well, what needs to be said about that?

Bob Schurter

Columbia

Ehrlich stands up for real tort reform

In Friday's editorial concerning the malpractice legislation passed by the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, The Sun took the position that some legislation is better than none ("The compromise," Dec. 31).

The editorial went on to suggest that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. failed the test of leadership when he threatened to veto the legislation when it arrives at his desk.

This Marylander wants to thank Mr. Ehrlich for having the courage to insist on meaningful tort reform instead of a bad compromise that benefits the plaintiffs' bar.

Sam Davis

Towson

Democrats craft bill to protect lawyers

Thanks to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the General Assembly convened to craft a solution to the skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance for doctors last week.

What the doctors and the citizens of Maryland got from the special session is barely a Band-Aid ("Ehrlich has veto ready for bill," Dec. 31).

This whole thing stinks of a completely partisan trial lawyer approach to solving the most pressing problem in Maryland - a problem whose solution must include meaningful legal reforms.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller should be ashamed of themselves, and The Sun should expose their blatantly biased approach to the whole issue.

Kathy Szeliga

Perry Hall

Leaders don't listen to anti-tax sentiment

Once again the Democratic leaders in the legislature have ignored the people who put them in office. By trying to force a 2 percent tax on HMOs, they are forcing their hands into the pockets of voters, who are simply fed up with this tactic ("Ehrlich has veto ready for bill," Dec. 31).

It does not take a genius to know that the HMOs will pass along any tax as a rate increase to their customers.

The Democrats seem to be content to ignore the election of 2002, which saw a majority-Democratic state's voters elect a Republican who ran on a platform of not raising taxes.

When the results of the 2006 election are in, maybe those few Democrats left in office will start to listen to the voters.

Bob Vogelsang

Jessup

What if HMO tax were called a 'fee'?

Perhaps our governor would be more interested in the legislature's version of the malpractice insurance reform if they called it a maintenance fee instead of a tax on HMOs ("Ehrlich has veto ready for bill," Dec. 31).

Maybe that would negate the necessity of a veto.

Abby Beytin

Reisterstown

Ehrlich plays politics with our health care

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has wasted thousands of dollars of our money by calling a special session then refusing to sign the bill lowering malpractice insurance rates ("Ehrlich has veto ready for bill," Dec. 31).

This solidifies his position as a President Bush wannabe who is always looking for confrontation, never solutions.

Mr. Ehrlich is playing politics with our safety by driving doctors out of business.

Roger Fitzgerald

Hampstead

How dare legislators try to draft state law

I'm confused and I'm sure the governor is confused by the recent performance of the state legislature.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. called a special session to address an emergency and gave the legislature a bill to pass. How in the world could they change his bill and pass something else instead ("Ehrlich has veto ready for bill," Dec. 31)?

Who do they think they are?

The governor has told us that this is "his government."

Doesn't the legislature understand that it's his way or the highway?

It's about time the legislature steps up and bows to the governor.

Paul Ciesla

Aberdeen

Another excuse to push for slots?

Could it be that the governor's motive for planning to veto the legislation that would tax HMOs ("Ehrlich has veto ready for bill," Dec. 31) is so he can have another reason to push his slots legislation to make up the budget shortfall caused by his desire to pay for the malpractice crisis from the state's general fund?

John Paul Berry

Annapolis

'Reform' that leaves taxpayers with bill

Maryland taxpayers are poorly served by this malpractice reform bill because it omits any attempt to rein in the malpractice insurers ("The compromise," editorial, Dec. 31). Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and the General Assembly share the blame for ignoring or rejecting this important reform.

By establishing a taxpayer-supported fund to pay doctors' premium increases of more than 5 percent, the bill would give the insurers a free pass to raise premiums and protect their bottom line.

The politicians chose to go for minimal tort reform and to protect the incomes of doctors, thereby not offending any of their important campaign contributors.

Vague promises of future reforms are not to be relied upon. This "reform" bill dumps the crisis on the taxpayer.

Georgia Burch Benson

Timonium

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