LOCAL lawmakers have been making a persuasive case that...

Salmagundi

April 05, 1993

LOCAL lawmakers have been making a persuasive case that they know best; they just haven't carried the argument far enough.

Mostly, we've been hearing the arguments in regard to state scholarships, millions of dollars of which are now doled out by senators and delegates. The legislators have been accused of using the scholarship funds to reward political allies. Not at all, they say; they can judge real need better than some bureaucratic formula.

Also, legislators have been telling other government bodies how to act -- for example, holding up funds from Baltimore public schools until the school system adopts in full (it had already adopted it partially) an administrative reorganization recommended by a consultant.

And members of the Baltimore City Council were concerned that doctors and other health professionals (including the city's health commissioner) hadn't taken proper account of side effects in deciding which clinic patients should receive the contraceptive Norplant.

We're ready to buy all these arguments if the lawmakers will take the next logical steps:

* Anyone wanting contraceptives should see her (or his) city or county council members. They're in a better position to judge who should get what than a doctor or nurse.

* Welfare grants should be divided up by legislative district and distributed by senators and delegates. They can judge need better than some bureaucratic formula. This will also save us from long-winded debates on legislation that would, for example, cut benefits for welfare mothers who have "too many" children. VTC Each legislator could decide how many is too many for each woman.

* Right-to-die decisions should be made by each legislator for patients from their districts. This would simplify another tricky area of legislation that has been a struggle in this year's legislative session.

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