Teen drug abuse may rest on a dime, Huff tells HouseDel...



Teen drug abuse may rest on a dime, Huff tells House

Del. W. Ray Huff, an amiable insurance salesman from Pasadena, gets the award for the most unusual argument for lowering a proposed cigarette tax.

Many of his fellow delegates wanted to raise the tax -- and the price of a pack of cigarettes -- by 20 cents. They reasoned it would discourage children and teens from smoking.

Mr. Huff, who favored a dime tax, thought the 20-cent increase might discourage teens too much.

''You're going to send them out to buy dope'' instead, he protested.

Those poor S&Ls

Del. Alfred W. Redmer Jr., a Baltimore County Republican, tried to champion the cause of savings and loans institutions last week in his ongoing fight against taxes.

Mr. Redmer told his colleagues it wasn't fare to levy a particular tax on savings and loans, since banks don't have to pay the same tax.

A Democratic delegate, however, reminded Mr. Redmer about the national savings and loan crisis, which, the Democrat said, cost taxpayers billions.

Maryland had its own savings and loans scandal seven years ago, too, and state taxpayers had to help pay off depositors from the failed thrifts to the tune of hundreds of millions.

''To now propose -- when teachers are being furloughed -- providing one more million dollars [in tax breaks] for the savings and loans is a little surprising,'' said Del. James C. Rosapepe of Prince George's County.

Virtually none of Mr. Redmer's colleagues, Democrat or Republican, showed any sympathy toward his complaint.

Commuter tax

Here's a tax bill anyone can vote for with a clean conscience -- Senate Bill 508, sponsored by fiscal conservative Sen. Walter M. Baker.

The bill, which passed the full Senate 45-0 last week, authorizes counties to extend local taxes to certain non-residents who commute to work there.

How can this be? How could senators approve a commuter tax when so many decried Gov. William Donald Schaefer's implicit references to such a tax in this year's State of the State address?

The beauty of this commuter tax is that it applies to voters who can't get back at legislators who vote for it -- residents of Delaware, which doesn't have a tax reciprocity agreement with Maryland. So counties may extend the so-called piggyback tax to those Delaware residents who cross state lines to work.

American pastime

Sen. Howard A. Denis knows how to carry a grudge, at least where the new stadium is concerned.

The Montgomery County Republican has introduced a bill designed to place a special sales tax on owner Eli S. Jacobs, should he sell the Orioles for more than $100 million. He also threatened to filibuster a bill that merged the Baltimore Convention Center Authority with the Stadium Authority.

When senators argued that the merger bill was simply a way to give the convention center the benefit of the stadium authority's management expertise, Mr. Denis belittled the stadium authority.

If they know so much, he said, why did they send Mr. Denis -- the assembly's all-star stadium hater -- four free tickets for the April 8 game, designated as an ''appreciation night'' for legislators?

Del. American Joe Miedusiewski was deeply impressed. He sprang to his feet and asked Mr. Denis a question that was probably on many minds:

''Could I have your tickets?''

Snorting to and fro

Even though legislators decided there's no money this year for the traditional pork barrel construction projects, that didn't keep the three little piggies from dancing before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee this past week.

As the committee was poised to vote on next year's capital construction budget, a helpful lobbyist donated to the committee a white wind-up pig, which walked and snorted its way across the witness table.

Not to be outdone, Sen. John A. Cade, R-Anne Arundel, reached into his bottom desk drawer to extract a pink battery-operated pig, which he then thrust onto the witness table.

Pretty soon, another pig had joined the dance, one with a slot on the top for coins to help in this recessionary year.

''I like Sen. Cade's best,'' said Baltimore Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman ''It goes forward and backwards.''

''Moves the same way as this committee,'' Mr. Cade replied.

Today in Annapolis

10 a.m.: A House-Senate conference committee continues its work on the budget, Legislative Services building, second floor.

8 p.m.: Senate and House convene.

There are 8 days remaining in the 1992 General Assembly session.

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