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Jeb Bush inauguration invitation a 'blunder' by Larry Hogan

Gov. Larry Hogan made an inauguration blunder by inviting the divisive former Florida governor Jeb Bush to deliver a speech in front of many Marylanders who will likely detest Mr. Bush’s politics.

Gov. Larry Hogan made an inauguration blunder by inviting the divisive former Florida governor Jeb Bush to deliver a speech in front of many Marylanders who will likely detest Mr. Bush’s politics. While Mr. Bush was governor — from Jan. 5, 1999 to Jan. 2007 — he pushed priorities that aligned with the more conservative wing of the Catholic Church and used scorched-earth tactics to achieve them. He was able to escape political punishment for his controversial decisions because Republicans controlled the Florida legislature and many of its members shared Mr. Bush’s views. Luckily, Maryland’s politics prevent Mr. Hogan from being Mr. Bush.

Jeb Bush ignored a family’s private and sound medical decision. In 1990, Terri Schiavo fell into a persistent vegetative state, according to medical experts, after suffering cardiac arrest. Michael Schiavo, her husband, first sought permission in late 1998 to remove his wife's feeding tube because he said his wife would not have wanted her life artificially prolonged. Her parents disagreed and eventually Mr. Bush intervened on behalf of the parents. Mr. Bush pushed the Florida legislature to pass Terri's law, which gave him the authority to prevent the removal of the feeding tube. It was later found unconstitutional, and ultimately the courts allowed Terri's feeding tube to be removed; she died on March 31, 2005.

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Mr. Bush also is no friend to the LGBT community. While in office, he consistently opposed gay marriage. In 2004, he endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in Florida. Mr. Bush also opposed gay adoption: he supported a 2001 federal judge’s ruling that upheld Florida’s ban on gay adults adopting, and the next year, he reaffirmed his position in a gubernatorial debate, saying: “If you’re going to have permanency, it should be with a loving couple that is a man and a wife. That is the law of this land, it’s in the courts, but I also believe that personally.” The adoption ban was struck down as unconstitutional in 2010.

Governor Hogan says he supports same-sex marriage and last year signed legislation into law making Maryland the 11th state to ban conversion therapy for minors. He should not have provided Mr. Bush with such a high profile speaking role because Mr. Bush’s anti-LGBT positions conflict with and offend so many Maryland families.

Mr. Bush also tampered with a successful citizen initiative to limit class-size. In the 1990s, Florida’s population grew, causing class sizes to expand. In November 2002, voters narrowly adopted the Class Size Reduction Amendment to the state constitution to limit kindergarten through third grade core classes to 18 children, fourth through eighth grades to 22 children and high school to 25. Mr. Bush balked at the cost because it would have required him to raise taxes to pay for more teachers and build more schools. He launched the first of many efforts to undercut the law, designed to improve the lives of children, by not providing adequate funding. The Marylander legislature would not tolerate such tampering with the voters’ will.

Mr. Bush again blatantly ignored voter wishes regarding high-speed rail. Florida’s traffic congestion was becoming more frequent and commutes longer as its population grew. In November 2000, Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment to mandate that the state establish a system of high speed trains. Instead of adhering to voters’ demands, Mr. Bush devised a plan to overturn it. Mr. Bush simply said voters didn’t understand the cost, and he campaigned in favor of a second, successful voter referendum to kill it in 2004.

Governor Hogan’s record on public transportation is mixed. He supported suburban Washington’s Purple Line, but killed Baltimore’s Red Line. These projects were never voted on in a statewide referendum, however, and with Baltimore’s population in decline, Governor Hogan’s decision on the Red Line may have prevented it from being an unfinished project like Cincinnati’s abandoned and unfinished subway.

Because Mr. Bush stands against what so many Marylanders stand for, he has no business speaking at Governor Hogan’s inauguration. Mr. Bush should be shown Annapolis, provided a tour of Baltimore, and then shown the exit, so he can return to retirement in Florida.

David Placher lived in Florida during most of Jeb Bush’s tenure as governor. He now lives in Baltimore; his email is david.placher@gmail.com.

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