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Local lawmakers heartened by Glendening's speech

January 19, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Local lawmakers were encouraged by Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening's optimistic State of the State address Wednesday, although some took issue with specific ideas for child-proof guns and minimum wages for school building contractors.

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"It was written for the future, the millennium. He set a high tone for the state of Maryland," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Munson and other lawmakers were heartened to hear Glendening underscore his long-held objectives for education, including $1.2 billion to build and renovate higher education facilities over the next five years.

Munson believes it will take a large investment to ensure the University System of Maryland's Hagerstown Education Center will succeed at its downtown location.

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"We have a golden opportunity there," he said.

When it comes to public schools, local lawmakers said they're glad Glendening plans to continue spending state money to build and renovate schools.

Del. Joseph R. Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington, said he was glad that Glendening sees teacher raises as crucial to the success of education.

But some worried that if the state forces school building contractors to pay their workers the prevailing wage it will drive up the cost of construction and not allow Washington County to refurbish as many schools.

"I think he's way off base. He's putting other priorities above textbooks," said Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington.

Glendening's declaration of the state's prosperous economy was a call for more tax cuts in the eyes of Republican lawmakers.

"The economy's booming because the good hard-working people of Maryland have earned it. It's the people's money. He ought to talk about giving some of it back to the people," Mooney said.

Glendening said tax cuts have already returned $2.4 billion back to state residents.

"I think we could even do better than that," Bartlett said.

Legislative leaders have said they may seek to speed up the 10 percent income tax cut that's being phased in through 2002.

Glendening's speech got the warmest reception from the Washington County delegation's two Democrats, Del. John P. Donoghue and Del. Sue Hecht.

"I thought it was a remarkable speech," said Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, who particularly liked his message of tolerance.

"A century ago, I as a woman legislator wouldn't be sitting here," she said.

Donoghue thought the message was upbeat.

"He stressed we can't sit on our laurels and sit back and say everything's just fine. It sure does help when there's plenty of money," Donoghue said.

Donoghue and Munson played a role in the ceremony of the governor's annual address. The two lawmakers escorted Glendening, his wife Frances Anne, and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend into the House Chamber.

Glendening's social proposals drew the most opposition from local lawmakers.

Glendening wants to require gun makers to develop child-proof guns and hinted he may once again pursue gay rights legislation, which died in Mooney's committee last year.

"He's so focused on promoting the radical homosexual agenda," Mooney said. "He's the governor. He says what he thinks. I say what I think. We've got that in common."

Bartlett criticized the governor for saying he hopes the children of Maryland will one day think of handguns as relics of the past. The country was founded on the right to own guns and it's a right that's protected by the Constitution, he said.

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