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Curbing that partisan streak

May 11, 2006

The three members of Washington County's Maryland General Assembly delegation who attended Wednesday's post-session breakfast took a stab at answering the question we posed earlier this week:

If things in the state capital remain as they are now - a governor who is a Republican and a legislature dominated by Democrats - how can the partisanship that marred the 2006 session be prevented in 2007?

State Sen. Don Munson, R-Washington, Del. Chris Shank, R-Washington and Del. Bob McKee, R-Washington, all agreed that the partisanship got out of hand in 2006 because this is an election year.

As Shank noted, the lawmakers who couldn't find time to complete a bill to provide more protection against sex offenders were able to pass legislation barring Gov. Robert Ehrlich's top fundraiser, Richard "Dick" Hug from doing that job if he remained on the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland.

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The question of whether appointees to state boards should be political fundraisers is probably a legitimate one for debate.

But as The Washington Post noted, Democrats in Annapolis were openly calling this the "Dick Hug bill," which suggests that the bill was less about reform and more about politics.

Here is our suggestion: Before the next session, the governor, state senators and delegates should stand in front of the State House and publicly pledge that they will be guided by what's best for the citizens instead of what will advance their party's fortunes.

Of course, some will lie as they make that pledge, but if that makes it easier for citizens to identify the liars, then we'll take that small bit of progress.

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