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Mooney takes parting shot at state budget

April 15, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - On the last day of the legislative session last week, Sen. Alex X. Mooney took a parting shot at the Annapolis establishment by criticizing the state's $716 million capital budget.

Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, questioned the need for several projects, including a golfing range in Baltimore city and an indoor soccer facility in Baltimore County.

Capital Budget Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton, D-Charles, said the projects are needed to revitalize poor areas.

"Every project in there has a senator's name attached to it," Middleton said.

Mooney ended up voting for the budget, citing the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center as the sole reason.

The budget contains $12.4 million for the center, which the University System of Maryland plans to establish in the former Baldwin House complex in downtown Hagerstown.

Del. Sue Hecht is giving up her seat in the House of Delegates, but she's keeping her familiar "Hecht yes" slogan in her bid for the state Senate.

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Political observers might be interested to know that Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, got the idea for the slogan from a Republican.

A collector of political buttons, Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, said a few years ago he came across a "Hecht yes" pin by another candidate with the same name.

McKee gave her the pin and the slogan stuck.

"That was a long time ago and now it's hers. It works well," said Sue Tuckwell, Hecht's campaign manager.

Did he file or didn't he?

Ex-Hagerstown mayor Robert E. Bruchey II told reporters last week that he filed paperwork to run for the House of Delegates in District 2C.

But he's not yet officially a candidate, according to the state Board of Elections office.

Bruchey paid his money and filed some of the required paperwork at the office in Annapolis, the election board confirmed. But his financial disclosure form was missing.

Bruchey said he didn't know he needed the form, which he'll mail back to the elections board to seal the deal.

Unless he gets some unexpected competition in the primary, Bruchey will face incumbent Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, in November.

Every year, legislation that seems headed for passage ends up dying when the clock strikes midnight on the final day to end the Maryland General Assembly's 90-day marathon.

This year, one casualty of time was a bill to help ease the burden on farmers of new runoff regulations.

Farmers' hopes for the bill were already dimmed after one bill died in a Senate committee last month.

But there was a spark of hope when the House resurrected the legislation a week later, removing a proposed two-year delay in the regulations and simply streamlining the process for farmers.

Finally, the same Senate committee that killed the earlier bill agreed to accept most of the changes made in the House.

Unfortunately for the farmers, there wasn't enough time left for the two chambers to work out their differences and the session adjourned before the bill could receive final approval.

Farm advocates said they still hope the Maryland Department of Agriculture can make the regulations less onerous without the passage of a new law.

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