Carroll's Obstructionists

January 26, 1995

By arbitrarily refusing to introduce a package of liquor law changes in the General Assembly, Carroll's delegation to the State House is adding to the list of reasons the county shouldn't pass up any future chance to adopt charter government. This latest snub is another example of the delegation's gratuitous obstructionism, which unnecessarily hobbles the non-home rule government in Carroll.

The county liquor commission wanted to make a number of housekeeping changes to Carroll's liquor laws. Some of them are sensible solutions to current problems, such as allowing restaurants with liquor licenses to close one day a week and allowing restaurants with wine and beer licenses to open on Sundays. Others -- prohibiting liquor stores from having drive-up windows, thus making it tougher for minors to purchase alcohol -- are rational measures designed to prevent future problems.

Though there may be considerable merit to a number of these proposals, the delegation says it didn't receive the bills in time for consideration, even though it got them three weeks before the current session in Annapolis began. The delegation received the package of bills on Dec. 20, five days after getting a package of other legislative initiatives from the county commissioners.

If Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Democrat, is to be believed, he just wants to teach the liquor board a lesson to be more prompt. He also said the commissioners should have approved the liquor law proposals. Commissioner Donald I. Dell said his colleagues did send the liquor board a memo approving the bills; apparently, the commissioners' approval got tangled in crossed wires of the bureaucracy.

The delegation's refusal to accommodate the county liquor board is nothing more than some political chest-thumping to show who's boss. It has nothing to do with legislative deadlines.

Mr. Dixon and the rest of the delegation might have needed more time to reflect on these bills if they resulted in major changes in the administration of the county's liquor policies, but they don't. These are routine measures. If the delegation is so interested in the minutiae of liquor laws, let them resign their legislative jobs and join the liquor board. There is no reason for county legislators to act so cavalierly. At the least, these bills deserved a hearing and discussion -- not arbitrary rejection.

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