Sharper Focus in the State House CARROLL COUNTY

April 16, 1993

From several perspectives, Carroll County did better than expected during the just-adjourned session of the General Assembly. Members of Carroll's delegation, who don't wield great power in either chamber, too often focus on irrelevant measures such as bills to prohibit carnivals from giving live goldfish as prizes. This time around, they kept their focus on more important matters.

Among the bills enacted were several sponsored by Carroll's delegates and senators that will improve life in the county. Quarrying in Carroll will be more closely regulated thanks to a bill that Delegates Richard Dixon and Donald Elliott shepherded through the legislature. The General Assembly also passed Mr. Elliott's bill allowing parents who are erroneously accused of child abuse to correct state records. Del. Richard Matthews' bill to impose strong sanctions against drivers who have two convictions for drunken driving passed both houses, too.

Most of the bills in the county's package never made it out of committee, however. Bills to create a reserve fund for a future county police force, to establish processing fees for the county's forest conservation ordinance and to allow performance audits of the school system will have to be re-introduced. A bill requested by State's Attorney Thomas Hickman seeking to regulate Carroll's lone massage parlor was passed, as was a bill to reduce the terms on the Board of Education from six years to four years. The county also received permission to use home detention for convicts deemed non-violent.

Carroll's delegation brought home the bacon in the form of two major capital projects -- an expanded emergency room at Carroll County General Hospital and a new library for Carroll Community College, which received enough funding to win independence from Catonsville Community College.

Sometimes you win by losing: the General Assembly killed a number of outrageous bills sponsored by local legislators. Among them were Sen. Larry Haines' effort to legalize corporal punishment of children and to prevent the elimination of religious references in public school texts.

Carroll's delegation had a successful session because it concentrated on important issues rather than squandering energy on irrelevancies. We urge lawmakers to take the same, serious approach when the 1994 session starts next January.

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