O'Donnell tries to testify against tax increase bill

House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell staged a little political theater Monday as he attempted to testify against a tax-increase bill and was turned away by the chairwoman of the committee hearing the legislation.

The occasion was a hearing on the Senate bill passed last week raising state income taxes. It was, like the hearings on most Senate bills coming over to the House, a sponsors-only event. When O'Donnell tried to follow the panel from the Senate to the witness stand, House Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Sheila E. Hixson promptly ruled O'Donnell out  of order and adjourned the hearing.

This was, of course, no surprise to O'Donnell -- a veteran Southern Maryland  legislator who knows the rules of the game. There was never a chance that Hixson, a Montgomery County Democrat who is a fierce stickler for the rules, would allow his testimony -- especially when she's trying to keep her committee's business on a fast track.

But O'Donnell was able to turn his rejection to an advantage by holding an impromptu news conference outside the committee room at which he was able to make the Republican case against the bill.

"It affects the state of Maryland's ability to be a business-friendly state," O'Donnell told reporters. "This bill kicks people when they're down."

The House's version of the revenue bill is expected to be crafted in the committee's revenue subcommittee Monday afternoon.




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