Economy To Dominate Legislature

January 08, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

County lawmakers have money matters on their minds as they return tothe State House today for the start of the 1992 session.

But although the state's finances promise to monopolize their attention, legislators say they will pursue their own agendas -- from expanding recycling markets to protecting residents from the rising cost of nursingcare.

Most county lawmakers say their constituents oppose new taxes and, for the next 90 days, they will, too.

"We're all going on a dietat the same time," said Delegate Marsha G. Perry, D-Crofton. "It simply goes like this: Cut the fat, cut the fat, cut the fat."

But Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, said he's not ready to rule outother options. In particular, he wants to give counties the authority to increase local income taxes -- also known as the piggyback tax -- if the state continues to cut aid to the subdivisions.

As tight as money will be, local governments are still asking for costly projects and programs.

In Anne Arundel, County Executive Robert R. Neall wants $1.25 million to design an $80 million expansion of the county's overcrowded detention center. Delegate Patrick Scannello, D-Glen Burnie, says he will push for $150,000 to create more parking at the Pascal Senior Center.

Jimeno is seeking state money for county dredging projects at Marley and Cattail creeks.

Lawmakers also are looking for ways to replace money lost by local programs during last fall's budget cuts.

Delegate Michael Busch, D-Annapolis, said he is investigating a proposal to charge convicted drunken drivers a fee that would be used to finance residential drug programs like Crownsville's Hope House.

Money is not the only issue on lawmakers' minds.

Delegate John Gary, R-Millersville, is upset because he believes state AIDS and drug prevention money was improperly used last year to finance a workshop to teach school counselors about teen-age homosexuals.

"I really resent (school officials) having these queers train school counselors to teach children (that) it's no more offensive to be homosexual than heterosexual," Gary said.

Jimeno plans action on the controversial issue of gun control. An opponent of the governor's proposed ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, he said he would push to increase the penalty for stealing firearms.

Other issues scheduled to be brought up this session include:

* Gary and Perry said they will support bills to hold down the escalating cost of nursing care. Perry also wants to protect the elderly from late-night phonesolicitors.

* Delegates Joan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park, and W. Ray Huff, D-Pasadena, will offer a bill banning adult video bookstores within 1,000 feet of homes, churches and schools. The bill was requested by the Glen Burnie Improvement Association after a adult bookstore opened in that community last year, she said.

* Huff wants to expand the state Medical Advisory Board to include a doctor practicing holistic medicine, to allocate money to the preservation of lighthouses, and to require that victims or their families be notified when felons are released from prison.

* Delegate Charles W. Kolodziejski, D-Carvel Beach, said he wants to hold down insurance costs by allowinginsurance companies to spy on claimants to verify injuries.

Kolodziejski is also sponsoring a bill to legalize the use of slot machines by Anne Arundel veterans groups, volunteer fire halls and other charitable organizations.

He may introduce legislation allowing parents to petition schools to require children to wear uniforms, establishing duckpin bowling as the state's indoor sport and making it illegal to talk on car phones while driving.

* Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Annapolis, said he will push for energy conservation measures in state buildings, the expansion of recycling markets, and stiff mandatory penalties for sewage treatment violations.

* Perry will sponsor bills requiring plastic liners in rubble landfills and increasing thepenalties to landfill owners who violate environmental regulations.

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