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Mooney off to fresh start

January 14, 2002

Mooney off to fresh start



By LAURA ERNDE
laurae@herald-mail.com


Sen. Alex X. Mooney, whose first three years in office were marked by intense opposition to the leadership in Annapolis, says this year will be different.

Mooney got off to a conciliatory start on opening day of the Maryland General Assembly session by voting to re-elect Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller as Senate president for the 16th straight year.

Mooney voted against Miller last year to protest the president's use of an obscure Senate rule to bring a gun control bill up for a vote.

"I'm trying to put that behind me, show once again my interest in working in a bipartisan manner," said Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington.

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During his first two years as a senator, Mooney helped conduct short-lived filibusters against an increase in the cigarette tax and a gun control bill. Both ultimately were approved.

Last session, Mooney was one of the leading critics of a gay rights bill that eventually passed the legislature.

Also last year, Mooney raised the ire of Senate leadership by voting in favor of a death penalty moratorium that eventually died on the Senate floor.

That vote helped get him expelled from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

This year, Mooney has been assigned to the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, which typically reviews bills that are much less controversial than the gay rights and gun control issues that go to Judicial Proceedings.

"I didn't plan to come down here and have to defend families against the radical homosexual agenda. It was thrust upon me in committee," he said. "I'm proud of what I've done. I've stood up for my principles."

Miller, D-Prince George's, said he is willing to work with Mooney and the remaining 45 senators. He doesn't expect unanimous support and said it doesn't matter who votes for him for president.

"What's important is how the business of the people is conducted," he said.

In addition to voting for Miller on the first day of this session, Mooney also tried for an unsuccessful veto override.

Glendening vetoed Mooney's bill to help taxpayers get refunds in rare cases in which their appeals are held up by administrative red tape. The bill unanimously passed the Maryland General Assembly last year.

Mooney accused Glendening of vetoing the bill because he is "full of hatred of me personally."

Glendening has said he wanted to keep Maryland's tax refund regulations consistent with federal regulations. He also was concerned that the law would be applied retroactively.

Mooney got 13 of the 29 votes he needed for the override.

Mooney has resubmitted the bill this year. A hearing is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

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