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Democratic leaders need to end the political games

March 24, 2005

If Democratic leaders in the Maryland General Assembly are intent on proving they're motivated only by partisan politics, they are doing a good job.

As the legislature heads toward adjournment, they need to spend their time on real issues instead of political spats.

The latest bit of silliness surfaced this week when Del. Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery, introduced a bill that would force Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich to admit that he initiated an increase in auto registration renewal fees.

Ehrlich did push for the increase and the legislature approved it, because it would bring in more than $100 million to deal with backlogged road projects across the state.

What irked Barve was when the notices went out, they contained a statement saying, "The Maryland General Assembly has approved a fee increase for vehicle registrations."

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That was a mistake, said Robert Flanagan, the state's transportation secretary. He told The Associated Press that when it came to his attention, such notices were stopped.

Barve isn't satisfied. Not only does he want the governor to admit his part in the fee increase, but his bill would also require the state to send out thousands of correction notices to drivers across the state.

That's ridiculous. Maryland has other, better ways to spend tax dollars than this attempt to embarrass the governor.

If embarrassment is Del. Barve's intent, tying the governor's hands is what Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller apparently has in mind.

For the second week in a row, Miller is delaying action on a long list of the governor's appointments to state boards and commissions.

There are 180 nominations being stalled, but Miller told The Associated Press that the two that concern him are "sham" Democrats Ehrlich wants to name to the state election board.

The Senate is now looking at a bill to restrict Ehrlich and future governors to election board nominees approved by the both parties' state central committees.

That's nonsense. Ehrlich was elected governor and has the right to nominate people who share his philosophy. If Republicans had demanded this during Democratic Gov. Parris Glendening's term, they would have been laughed out of the State House.

There is serious business to be done in Annapolis, but this isn't it. Unless, of course, the Democrats are intent on proving they want to hamstring Ehrlich because he isn't one of them.

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