The Baltimore Sun

Make drivers pay more of the costs

As a car owner and a resident of Baltimore, I support the proposed increase in fees for E-ZPass users ("Officials don't expect big hit from E-ZPass fee change," Jan. 12). I also encourage policymakers to consider other measures that raise the cost of driving, such as a gas tax increase or toll hikes to help deal with the state's budget shortfall.

Such policies would mean that the costs of maintaining a good road system and other road-related services would be funded more fully by those who take advantage of these services. It makes sense to have those who drive pay more than those who do not drive much or do not drive at all.

That's why I applaud state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller for broaching the subject of having drivers pay a little more ("Tough choices," Jan. 11). I hope he and other policymakers have the political courage to act on this issue in this legislative session.

And I appreciate The Baltimore Sun's support of the E-ZPass fee increase ("Ask not for whom the toll rises," editorial, Jan. 11).

Nicholas Reich, Baltimore

E-ZPass fee will hurt occasional commuters

The Maryland Transportation Authority's proposal that all E-ZPass device holders pay a flat fee of $1.50 per month, whether they use E-ZPass or not, is unfair to those holders who make light use of Maryland's toll roads ("Officials don't expect big hit from E-ZPass fee change," Jan. 12)

In recent years, I have used E-ZPass only to cross the Bay Bridge a total of two or three times per year. And while E-ZPass holders receive a discount on tolls for Baltimore harbor crossings, no discount is provided on the Bay Bridge toll. I, and other motorists in my position, would therefore be required, in effect, to pay a surcharge of $6 to $9 per crossing if the proposed fee of $18 a year is implemented.

The Maryland Transportation Authority should find a more equitable way to increase toll-related revenues so that the increased expense to motorists has a more reasonable relationship to the amount of use they make of those facilities.

Berryl Speert, Baltimore

As an occasional user of the E-ZPass system, I was dismayed to learn that I may soon be charged $1.50 per month for the system, whether I use it that month or not.

Perhaps a more equitable approach would be to charge a bit more for tolls per use or to charge the monthly fee only in months in which the E-ZPass is used.

Walter Levy, Pikesville

How would we punish jailhouse murderers?

The top item on The Baltimore Sun's agenda for the coming legislative session is repeal of the death penalty ("The Annapolis agenda," Jan. 12). But before Maryland repeals the death penalty, please tell me how we would punish murderers who murder in prison if we do so.

Tell me what punishment the murderers of Correctional Officer David McGuinn, for instance, would receive.

This society has every right to protect itself from people who murder others and prove they will do so again given the chance.

Life without parole is not a workable or humane punishment.

James Christhilf, Glen Burnie

Guns a dated way to control the deer

As a resident of Dorsey Hall, I write with great concern about the ongoing managed deer hunt. As the recent incident at the day care center in Clarksville illustrated, under current law, there can be no guarantee of safety for the residents of the area targeted for hunting.

However, the bill proposed in Howard County that would require hunters to stay 300 yards away from homes and other buildings is sadly inadequate ("A missed volley," editorial, Jan. 7).

This restriction would apply only to shooters on level ground, not those aiming from trees or other elevated sites. In addition, the 300-yard buffer zones would extend only from a nearby structure itself, not from the property line. This would offer scant protection.

Why is it necessary in the 21st century to resort to such dangerous methods when contraceptives have been proved to be safe and effective in controlling deer populations?

It seems somehow medieval to have hunters stalking their prey so close to our homes and our children. Perhaps it's time to recognize the need for change.

Judith Eble, Ellicott City

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