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Republicans plan to appeal ruling in special-session suit

The Baltimore Sun

Five Republican lawmakers plan to ask the state's highest court to reconsider a lawsuit seeking to invalidate tax increases passed during last year's special legislative session, their attorney said yesterday.

Last week, a Carroll County Circuit Court judge dismissed the suit but criticized Democratic leaders for "failing to abide by constitutionally mandated procedures" during the session.

Plaintiffs' attorney Irwin Kramer formally filed a notice of appeal yesterday, and said he would petition the Court of Appeals today to take up the case.

Part of the lawsuit centered on whether the House appropriately consented, as is required in the Maryland Constitution, to a five-day adjournment by the Senate during the session.

Judge Thomas F. Stansfield ruled that there were problems with the consent procedures legislative leaders employed but said the plaintiffs' request - that the entire legislative session be invalidated - was excessive.

Stansfield also dismissed the plaintiffs' argument that the General Assembly's decision to let voters settle the slots debate through a constitutional amendment is unconstitutional because it violates a prohibition on sending revenue bills to the voters as referenda.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said, "It's a shame they continue to try and waste the court's time," but she expressed confidence that appellate courts would find no constitutional grounds to invalidate the legislature's work.

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