Getting It RightNow that the balanced budget amendment is...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 08, 1995

Getting It Right

Now that the balanced budget amendment is on the back burner, I appeal to The Sun and the other responsible U.S. papers to launch a campaign to inform readers of the technical differences between an amendment and a law.

We need to know that the framers of the Constitution deliberately made it difficult to pass amendments because they are not appropriate in most cases.

A law can be changed. It can be rescinded. It can be time-limited. All these things make it possible to refine and improve legislation, whereas it is most difficult to change or rescind an amendment.

If we don't get an amendment 100 percent right on the first try, we could regret it forever.

With a balanced-budget law, our government would not be immobilized in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe or threat.

With a balanced-budget amendment, our country might be annihilated before a way to respond to the unforeseen could be devised.

Sara Lee Woolf

Baltimore

Maryland Smoke

Nearly two years ago, following Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Second Annual Cancer Summit Conference, the "Coalition for a Smoke-Free Maryland" was formed.

Among the principles adopted by this group were restricting access to tobacco products by young people as well as reducing the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke (passive smoking).

We can share a great sense of joy and exhilaration that today, thanks to the concerted efforts of a number of individuals and organizations, Maryland has created a nearly complete "smoke-free workplace."

As most readers know, tobacco is the only legal product which, when used as directed, kills its consumers.

Nearly 7,000 Marylanders die annually from using tobacco and 1,000 will die in 1995 merely from being subjected to the noxious and deadly fumes emitted by tobacco products and those who exhale them.

On March 27, Gov. Parris Glendening signed into law legislation allowing the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Workplace Ban to become effective immediately.

With only a few exceptions, limited to the tourism and hotel/restaurant industry, Maryland now has one of the toughest workplace protection laws in the country.

Our new tobacco control measures will assure a safe and healthful environment to approximately 96 percent of Maryland's work force.

This is a remarkable effort and a major public health victory for our citizens.

Thousands of lives will be saved as a result of this effort, and the quality of life for Maryland families will be enhanced by reducing illness associated with second-hand smoke.

Employers will save money as total worker productivity increases and worker illness diminishes. In addition, state health care costs will decline and medical payments will be reduced.

While we have not yet won the "war on tobacco," at least for the present time, we can all take a deep breath of clean, fresh and healthy air. We have won this battle and I, for one, am proud to be a Maryland resident and a Maryland worker.

I am proud of our governor and our legislature and hope that this current agreement will lead to other joint activities which will decrease minors' access to tobacco products and further eliminate tobacco use -- the No. 1 cause of cancer in the state of Maryland.

Martin P. Wasserman, M.D.

Baltimore

NB The writer is Maryland secretary of health and mental hygiene.

City Woes

I write to support Stephen and Carol Beard (letter, March 11), lest they continue to think they are the lone middle-income city dwellers.

I, like them, am not classified as wealthy and opted to live in an area which allows access to all of the amenities that the Baltimore midtown has to offer.

It is wonderful to be able to walk to work, the Lyric, Meyerhoff Hall and Camden Yards. Yet another advantage is being able to shop in neighborhood stores and enjoy a relationship with local vendors.

However advantageous these amenities are, the extra costs incurred by city dwellers are disproportionate. Higher municipal taxes and inflated car insurance rates act as serious deterrents to potential home buyers.

While acknowledging that car insurance is outside the domain of the city government, it is reasonable to expect a level of fiscal management that reflects the appropriate responsibility to the tax base.

The continued erosion of the city population can be construed as evidence that this may not be the case.

What is it going to take before the city government responds to the demise of this once vibrant city?

The inference from your March 11 editorial, "A Shrinking City's Possibilities," is that Baltimore is a dying city. Let us not wait until rigor mortis sets in before we react to the ebb of citizens to the suburbs.

The issues facing Baltimore are not unique. City crime and intolerant insurance company management are both issues facing many municipalities both here and in Europe.

It is how these issues are dealt with that differentiates cities that truly wish to recuperate from those willing to be suffocated by

bureaucracy.

Elizabeth A. Boylan

Baltimore

Those Vacancies

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