Delegate wants balance of environment, economy

January 07, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Environmental concerns must be balanced with economic factors in order to attract industry to Maryland and Carroll County, Del. Donald B. Elliott told local farmers, businessmen and government officials yesterday.

"Between August 1992 and August 1993, Maryland lost 2.4 percent employment," he said at the monthly Agribusiness Club breakfast. "In the last 10 years, Maryland has lost over 10,000 jobs in manufacturing. Environmental legislation played a big role in that."

Mr. Elliott, a member of the House of Delegates' Environmental Matters Committee, said he believes some environmental legislation has gone beyond protection and has begun to infringe on property owners' rights.

He particularly condemned legislation that is more stringent than federal or state regulations.

"When you go beyond the federal regulations, that's when you get into trouble," he said. "Every step you move away from that base makes us less competitive than other states. The [attorney general] essentially said to me in a 14-page opinion that, if the state so decrees, it can take away 90 percent of your property and leave you with some small piece you can do what the hell you want with it."

During the talk, some members of the audience murmured in agreement with Mr. Elliott's comments, while others stared in disbelief. There were no comments or questions at the end of his presentation.

Mr. Elliott also fired a salvo at the proposed county reforestation law, saying he opposed the state legislation from the beginning because he perceived it would become too stringent in individual jurisdictions.

"It's not a matter of replenishing trees," he said. "Afforestation goes beyond that. It requires you to plant trees where there hasn't been a tree for centuries. I consider that a clear taking [of property]."

In regards to emissions testing, the delegate -- a Republican who represents Carroll and Howard counties -- said it was unfair that the eight jurisdictions with testing stations are the only ones to pay for the procedure. Mr. Elliott said he is sponsoring a bill

requiring all Marylanders to pay for what he called an "air quality tax."

"It's not just fairness," he said. "It's not just the $20 to $25 fee that we have to pay. It's that we get $500 million of highway funds by virtue of having this program, and those funds go to all jurisdictions.

"All get the benefits. We should tack on the cost and have it pro-rated for all cars in the state."

In his half-hour speech, Mr. Elliott also addressed:

* His support for a Maryland Dairy Commission, which would regulate the amount producers are paid for raw milk and wholesale milk.

"Virginia and Pennsylvania are dumping milk here for less than the Maryland farmers' cost to produce it," Mr. Elliott said. He noted that Maryland dairy farmers produce only 52 percent of the milk consumed in the state.

* His bill calling for regulating prices pharmaceutical companies charge for drugs. Mr. Elliott owns the Union Bridge Pharmacy.

"This is not cost control," he said, explaining that drug companies often charge small pharmacies and chain stores more than hospitals, health maintenance organizations and mail order prescription companies. "This is just another fairness."

* His bill requiring the state to inform victims of sexual molestation when their attacker is released from prison. Mr. Elliott said he has also sponsored a bill requiring notification of victims of all violent crimes in similar circumstances.

"Sexual molesters have a high recidivism rate," he said. "There really is no cure for that type of problem. A child molester is more likely [than other criminals] to be a repeat offender."

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