Legislators' Misguided Priorities CARROLL COUNTY

February 02, 1993

If Carroll's voters need concrete evidence as to why they would be better off with charter government, all they have to do is consider last week's actions of the county's delegation to the General Assembly.

Instead of fighting on behalf of several important bills the commissioners requested, the members of the delegation killed them.

Their explanations revealed a total distain for the real needs of this county. Instead, they were quick to throw their support behind bills dealing with minutia -- regulating part-time vendors along Route 140 and other major roads, and massage parlors.

The fate of the resident state trooper program is of paramount importance to Carroll's people, yet the delegation has taken a head-in-the-sand position on the issue. They argued that the commissioners' bill -- calling on the state to give the county three years notice should it decide to drop the program -- might call attention to its existence and thus hasten its demise.

State officials are well aware of the program, and at the moment they could cancel it at a moment's notice. The commissioners quite properly want to take steps to prepare for the program's inevitable end. They also want to establish a reserve fund to accumulate money needed to plan for and equip a county police force, when one is needed. The delegation killed that proposal as well. These thoughtless actions will only serve to worsen the impact on the county when the trooper program is curtailed.

The delegation's handling of the commissioners' request for a line-item veto over the education budget also showed a lack of understanding. There is a legitimate question of how much control the commissioners, who set the county's tax rate, should have over a department that consumes 50 percent of the budget. To argue that special-interest groups such as teachers might oppose the bill, as did Del. Richard C. Matthews, totally misses the point. Perhaps lawmakers were more worried about offending these powerful interest groups.

While these measures are dead for this year, they can be reintroduced next year. If the county delegation displays the same cavalier attitude toward these bills then, it may be time to reconsider the need for charter government -- and to oppose the re-election of these legislators in 1994.

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