Area residents provide ideas for upcoming General Assembly

Gun control, gas tax and jobs are some of the specific issues cited

January 07, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Joe Leak and Ernest Young
Joe Leak and Ernest Young

Gun control could be at the forefront of the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month, and Hagerstown resident Virginia Fennel said it should be.

“They need some kind of laws or legislation to protect people,” she said. “Why do people need assault rifles?”

Fennel, 68, said she believes gun control should be one of the first issues addressed  during the General Assembly session that begins Wednesday. She also talked about the importance of financial stability and regulating the expansion of gambling for the state.

“We’ve got a lot of debt right now,” she said. “They also need to make sure there’s tight controls on the gambling and that the money goes to education, where it is supposed to go.”

Gasoline taxes, a new state law on septic systems and the disparity grant, for which Washington County has not been eligible since 2010, are all priorities for local legislators, according to published reports.

Hagerstown resident Joe Leak, 42, said legislators should focus on the possibility of gasoline taxes increasing and on preventing gas prices from rising.

“Prices are kind of high right now, with me driving an hour to work every day (at UPS in Burtonsville, Md.),” he said. “They should also focus on gun laws, especially after the shooting last month.”

Larry Moats, 42, of Hagerstown, said he believed the state’s main focus should be on bringing in more jobs, despite the fact that Maryland’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent in November, according to statistics provided in December from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s website at

“There’s a lot of people still without jobs, and their unemployment ran out,” he said. “They should bring more small businesses back to the small towns in the state.”

The jobless rate in Washington County was 8.1 percent in November.

Moats said the state also should focus on education.


“Jobs is the most important, but you need an education for many of them,” he said.

Some Washington County residents, including Smithsburg resident Lisa Scrivener, said state taxes are an issue that should be addressed.

“They should focus on lowering taxes for everybody,” said Scrivener, 45. “We all want to pay less.”

For tax year 2012, personal tax rates in Maryland ranged from 2 percent to 5.75 percent, depending on the income level, according to information on the state’s website,

 Hagerstown resident Susan Scott said that while the state should focus on “keeping taxes low,” legislators should work to restructure the tax code.

“They should have a tax that everybody pays, whether it’s the governor or the people on welfare,” she said. “There should be no way to get around it.”

How to implement the new Health Care Reform Act is a possible priority for legislators.

Ernest Young, 64, of Keedysville, said health care should be the top priority for the state.

“Everybody should have health care,” he said. “It’s no good right now because everybody doesn’t have it, so everybody’s not equal.”

State funding for downtown Hagerstown projects and a more balanced budget are other issues local legislators said they would focus on, according to reports. The budget deficit for fiscal year 2013 in Maryland was projected to be $1.1 billion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website at

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