Most Of '91's Legislation Of Minor Nature

April 10, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

They don't restrict development or ban assault weapons. They don't promise to take from the rich or give to the poor.

But, in a year when the General Assembly may be best remembered for the legislation it killed, at least they passed.

Anne Arundel County's 18 senators and delegates sponsored more than a dozen bills that could become law with the governor's signature.

They are minor initiatives, ranging from helping the disabled find parking spaces to aiding landlords deal with AWOL tenants.

Occasionally, they set major state policy. Delegate Marsha G. Perry, D-Crofton, for instance,guided through two measures to aid new-born infants -- one directing the state to spend $1 million next year on nutritional programs and the other creating a commission to study Baltimore's high infant mortality rate.

But, more frequently, they make subtle changes to the law.

Delegate Tyras S. "Bunk" Athey, D-Jessup, sponsored a bill that ensures that tax-exempt investments and tax-exempt groups like homeowners' associations, in fact don't have to pay taxes.

A bill backed by Delegate George Owings, D-Owings, changes the name of the "Office for Handicapped Individuals" to the "Office forIndividuals with Disabilities."

Perhaps inevitably, many of the new laws would add to thebureaucracy.

Delegate Elizabeth S. Smith, R-Davidsonville, authored a bill that requires the counties to conduct yet another annual hearing to explain the complex formula used to calculate property taxes. The bill requires the counties to gather public comment each winter before setting the "homestead tax credit" percentage. The counties already conduct hearings on the "constant yield" tax rate every spring.

Meanwhile, Delegate W. Ray Huff, D-Pasadena, extended the term of an advisory panel appointed two years ago tostudy the fate of Maryland's lighthouses. Huff, who also extended the term last year, is the chairman of the lighthouse commission.

Perry pushed through a measure that places a consumer advocate on the state Agricultural Commission, which sets state policy on agriculture and produce.

And, to encourage property owners to forgo developingtheir land, another Perry-sponsored bill law enables the counties togrant them property tax credits.

Anyone who wants to donate an easement to a conservation land trust can already get a tax credit fromthe state. But proponents of the measure felt property owners would be more willing if they could deal with the counties instead.

And more often than not, the bills cater to a particular group of the lawmaker's constituents.

Sen. Michael J. Wagner, D-Ferndale, for instance, pushed a bill that gives scofflaw day-care mothers a second chance to register with the state without feeling the full weight of thelaw.

And Delegate John Astle, D-Annapolis, sponsored a bill that enables counties to give property tax breaks to the surviving husbands and wives of military veterans.

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