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Legislators might face turf battle

December 21, 2004

I saw a report where Gov. Robert Ehrlich is planning to call a special session of the legislature to provide some relief to doctors over their malpractice insurance rates.

Well, why not? They always make such overpowering successes of their regular sessions that a special session would be bound to meet with similar success.

But doesn't the plain old regular session start in, like, three weeks? When are they going to hold it, on Christmas? On New Year's Eve? Instead of dropping a ball, they'll drop a giant shunt. It's midnight, and they're releasing angioplasty balloons.

That, or they will have to delay the regular session so they can have time for the special session.

What is there about malpractice reform that makes me want to mention it in the same sentence as "Washington baseball?" Personally, I'd like to see "health insurance for the rest of us" reform, but you know that ain't gonna happen.

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Doctors at least have something they can hold over lawmakers' heads, namely their lives. If they shut down, how in the world are we to get our average 3.7 pills a day? Doctors have leverage. What are the rest of us going to threaten to do, stop buying scratch-offs at Sheetz?

Alexa and I were standing behind a guy at Sheetz last week - he, no lie, was buying the Hagerstown Trifecta: Playboy, Wonder Bread and a lottery ticket - and I would wager that he had about as much health insurance as I have nanotechnology labs.

But I thought, if he and a million more like him stopped buying those lottery tickets, the state would go broke in 30 minutes. Lawmakers would be on health reform like wrinkles on granny.

'Course, people aren't that organized. They would all depend on everyone else not to buy lottery tickets and the effort would go nowhere.

Besides, everyone is getting hung up on health care, when obviously there are more crucial issues that the General Assembly needs to address.

Under the headline Friday "County, city submit their wish lists to delegation," is - again, no lie - the following request:

"Authority to regulate weeds above a certain height."

I'm not entirely sure I get that. Haven't our local governments ever heard of a string trimmer?

Regulate weeds? Good luck. If I've learned anything in covering Annapolis, it's that there are two things you can't legislate: morality and crabgrass.

Not that there are more important issues out there for lawmakers to be addressing - I mean, in real day-to-day life, I'm probably more concerned about how to get rid of the thistle than I am about tort reform. I'm just curious how they would go about it.

Will I be able to call the sheriff and get an arrest on one count of being a dandelion? More likely they would arrest me for multiple counts of aiding and abetting a dandelion.

The way I read the story, the government would be able to put a lien against your home if they have to send someone out to mow the grass. As long as they don't get carried away, that's fine.

You don't want to live next door to a property that looks like the riverbank in "Apocalypse Now." I just don't want to get busted because I forgot to do my "edging." I mean, we all saw what happened to that 87-year-old woman last winter. If the city charged $233 to shovel her walk, imagine their markup on a bag of Turf Builder Plus.

This is assuming it makes it into law in the first place. I'm sure you will see all sorts of weed lobbyists advancing their pro-weed agendas, not to mention the formation of WeedPac making all sorts of campaign contributions to keep anti-"right to bear weeds" legislation off the books.

Weeds will be flying lawmakers to Jamaica on all-expenses-paid "fact-finding missions" and when they return all the weed bills will mysteriously die in committee.

Then the weeds will go too far and begin organizing weed unions and tax-exempt weed LLCs rife with scandal and kickbacks and Marylanders will demand action.

Which, of course, lawmakers will have to address in a special session.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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