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Governor retains muscle power over budget

March 25, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

Maryland's governor will continue to have more power over the budget than any other governor in the country after the Senate rejected a measure to give the legislature more control.

The Maryland General Assembly is the only legislature in the country that can't add money to the state budget. It can only cut.

In his eight-year administration, Gov. Parris Glendening has leveraged his budget power to get lawmakers to pass his legislative initiatives.

Washington County's two senators, Donald F. Munson and Alex X. Mooney, voted in favor of letting state voters resolve the issue in November.

But the proposal fell two votes short of the three-fifths majority needed to pass a Constitutional Amendment.

"I was very disappointed. It's time the legislative branch became the co-equal branch," said Munson, R-Washington.




Del. Shank switches position on cell phones

After years of consistently voting to preserve motorists' access to handheld cell phones, Del. Christopher B. Shank changed his position this year.

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Shank, R-Washington, said he did some soul-searching after getting feedback from constituents.

"This is something people wanted and were concerned about. My job is to listen to the voters," he said.

The proposal would give people one year to buy hands-free cell phone adapters before fines would be levied, he said.

But Shank was outnumbered on the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee, which voted to kill the bill.




Erlich may announce gubernatorial intention

Republican Congressman Robert L. Erlich Jr. is expected to announce a run for governor today and members of his party in the Maryland General Assembly are clearly looking forward to the candidacy.

Earlier this month, all 35 House Republicans signed a letter urging Erlich to run and last week all 13 Senate Republicans followed suit.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, said Erlich's pro-choice stand on abortion isn't a deal-breaker.

"You've got two options and he is by far the better of two options," he said, referring to potential Democratic contender Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.




Nursing home camera bill dies in committee

The same committee that gave the nursing home industry a verbal drubbing last week for not putting surveillance videocameras in two nursing homes killed a bill that would have regulated cameras statewide.

The House Environmental Matters Committee agreed to write a letter urging nursing homes to follow through as promised.

Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, has been trying to convince the committee for several years to write guidelines for cameras in nursing homes, which are not against the law.

But lawmakers still have issues with the practicality of the regulations, said Del. Peter A. Hamman, D-Baltimore.




Late bill introduction warrants a laugh

It was 2 p.m. and the House of Delegates had been in session for three hours without a break.

People were getting a little punchy.

But everyone got a welcome laugh when Del. George C. Edwards, D-Garrett/Allegany, stood up to ask permission to introduce a bill very late in the 90-day session.

Sponsored by the Allegany County Delegation, the bill is aimed at shutting down a strip club that recently opened in Cumberland, Md.

"We have another bill in that we thought covered everything. But it didn't cover everything. So now we have a bill we think covers everything," Edwards said.

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