In Baltimore Co. Senate caucus, everyone gets full vote, even city, Howard Co.

November 24, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Breaking ranks with their House colleagues, Baltimore County's state senators have decided to grant full delegation voting privileges to four senators whose districts are split with other jurisdictions.

They include three city-based incumbents and Sen.-elect Edward J. Kasemeyer, whose district is split between Howard and Baltimore counties.

"We don't believe in partial voting," said Sen. Michael J. Collins of Essex, a Democrat who was unanimously chosen to lead the county delegation Tuesday during an informal meeting at the Bromwell Inn in Fullerton.

Earlier Tuesday, House delegation members decided to recommend granting two votes -- one per district -- to the six city-based delegates who represent about 30,000 Baltimore County residents in parts of Dundalk, Pikesville and Ruxton.

The delegates based their decision on the premise that only small portions of the 42nd and 46th districts intrude into the county. Each Maryland legislative district has one senator and three delegates.

In explaining the senators' decision, Mr. Collins noted that the county's Senate delegation for years included a senator from Carroll County, although only a third of his district was in Baltimore County. That split district was eliminated when new boundaries were drawn after the 1990 Census.

In delegation meetings, legislators take positions on bills that specifically apply to their localities and may also vote on other legislation with regional impact. Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell of Fullerton, the outgoing delegation chairman, called the meeting, but, like his House colleagues, didn't invite any of the cross-jurisdiction senators to attend.

Of the outcome, he said, "If regionalism is supposed to work, you can't disregard people."

Towson Republican Sen. F. Vernon Boozer agreed and said that House members in similar positions should have full delegation votes, too.

"What the House does is not my business," he said, "but frankly, I feel representatives from an area should have equal voting."

Each district has about 100,000 residents, but Mr. Boozer noted the population can vary by several thousand. For example, he noted that the neighboring 11th District, represented by Paula C. Hollinger, has fewer residents than his 9th District.

"Paula may have 3,000 or 4,000 less constituents than I have. Does that mean she should vote less?" he asked.

Mrs. Hollinger, many of whose old Pikesville constituents are now in the city-based 42nd District, said she agreed with the outcome. "I'm very proud of our Senate delegation," she declared.

Mr. Collins, whose eastern 6th Legislative District now includes several precincts in Harford County, said full voting privileges "are the only appropriate way not to disenfranchise voters."

Mr. Bromwell's northeastern 8th District takes in four Baltimore precincts, and in the west, 20 percent of the new 10th District constituents represented by Sen. Dolores G. Kelley live in West Baltimore.

The city, Harford and Howard delegations will have to decide whether to recommend that Baltimore County legislators be allowed to vote in their meetings.

Northwest Baltimore Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, whose 42nd District covers more Baltimore County residents (24,000) than any other city-based district, said she was not upset at being excluded from Mr. Bromwell's meeting and was happy with the outcome.

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