A renewed attempt to give Baltimore City-based delegates whose districts include small parts of Baltimore County a full vote in county delegation meetings failed Friday.
The action upset the chairman of the city House delegation, who said he will review the full voting privileges his group granted to six county-based delegates who represent small portions of Baltimore City.
Five legislative districts that cross the city-county border were created in the 1991 redistricting that followed the 1990 census, two predominantly in the city and three in the county. The voting dispute involves four of these -- the 42nd, 46th, 8th and 10th. The last district, the 47th, was divided more evenly to create a single-delegate subdistrict in Catonsville and is not affected.
The city-based delegates in question represent about 30,000 county residents who now live in the 42nd District, which includes parts of Pikesville, and the 46th District, which extends into Dundalk.
The issue of voting rights first was debated in December by the county delegation. The delegation voted to give the six city-based delegates two delegation votes, or one-third vote each, based on the fact that both districts cover small parts of the county. An attempt by freshman Owings Mills delegates to give city-based delegates full voting privileges failed when the issue was tabled.
Del. Dan K. Morhaim, one of the Owings Mills freshmen and now vice chairman of the delegation, brought up the issue again Friday, citing a recent House Rules Committee edict.
"All present should participate," he said. County residents who live in the city-based districts deserve as much representation as other county residents, he said.
Dr. Morhaim said he re-opened the issue because the new rule says city-based delegates should have a full vote in the delegation decision on permanent voting privileges. The delegation then may decide to allow nonresident delegates one-third to full permanent voting privileges.
But opponents, led by delegation Chairman Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick of Dundalk, used parliamentary rules to keep the issue tabled and prevent the new rule from coming into play. Mr. Minnick argued that since the new rule allows one-third voting privileges, the county need not change.
Dr. Morhaim's attempt to reverse the December vote to table the matter was defeated 11-9, with the six city delegates allowed only two votes.
Del. Frank D. Boston Jr., city House delegation chairman, said the action by the county delegation Friday opens "a can of worms," and the situation will be discussed by members of the city delegation. The six county-based delegates from the 8th and 10th districts, which extend slightly into the city, get full voting privileges in city meetings because "we felt it was the right thing to do," Mr. Boston said.
State senators from the county have granted full voting privileges to city-based colleagues in affected districts, and city senators have done likewise for county colleagues. Each Maryland legislative district has three delegates and one state senator.
From the start of the 1991 redistricting process, old-line county delegates resented the intrusion of city-based legislative districts into the county. They saw it as a device to preserve the city's political power despite a declining population.
Others, including some new delegates, see it as a chance for more regional cooperation.