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Mooney's try to block law fails

May 31, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

State Sen. Alex X. Mooney has failed to collect enough signatures to stop the state from setting minimum wage scales on school construction projects.

Mooney said he had about 10,000 signatures by late Wednesday afternoon, out of reach of the 15,376 needed by midnight.

"I'm actually encouraged. I'm glad I got two-thirds of the way there," said Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington.

Given more time and money, Mooney said he could have met Wednesday's goal, and could have obtained the 46,128 signatures needed by the end of June to get the issue on the November ballot.

The law will require contractors to pay workers set wages, based on the average wages of construction workers in each county.

Mooney claims it will drive up the cost of building and renovating schools by 15 percent.

Gov. Parris Glendening has said the effect will be negligible.

Mooney chastised Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for not signing his petition.

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"It's a shame the governor and lieutenant governor don't trust the voters to decide their children's education," he said.

The governor's spokeswoman said the failure of the petition drive proves that Marylanders agree that the prevailing wage law is fair.

"The voters have spoken," said Michelle Byrnie. "The senator could have done something more productive with the beginning of his spring."

Mooney said the effort was worthwhile and drew attention to an important issue.

He had the support of Associated Builders and Contractors of Washington County.

Washington County Commissioner William J. Wivell signed the petition, as did all six Republican members of the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

Washington County Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. did not take a position on the issue.

Mooney said he spent $7,500 of his campaign funds to mail 20,000 appeal letters and set up a Web site.

He has received about $1,500 in donations.

It was the first time the Internet was used in a statewide referendum effort.

The Web site, www.educationmaryland.com, had received 551 hits as of Wednesday afternoon.

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