Willis responds to criticism of missed votesThis letter is...


March 24, 1996

Willis responds to criticism of missed votes

This letter is in response to a letter to The Sun for Carroll on March 17, in which Frank Rammes criticized my performance after three weeks in office.

Mr. Rammes' first concern involves his assertion that I avoided voting on a bill dealing wth Maryland regulations not exceeding federal regulations. I assume he is referring to House Bill 110. This bill came to the floor on Feb. 20, my first day in office, along with 11 other bills. At my request, the Speaker of the House gave me permission to refrain from voting on my first day, agreeing with me that I had not had time to assess the merits of the legislation of the day, nor solicit input from my constituents. Other legislators had the opportunity of committee discussions as well as two prior readings of the bills. I would have voted to support this legislation.

Mr. Rammes' second concern involves his perception that I failed to vote on the stadium issue. He correctly points out that I was excused from session that day, March 5, to attend a bank board meeting in Westminster. Mr. Rammes asserts that "doing personal businesss" is not a legitimate reason for missing a vote. I would suggest that keeping a prior commitment to attend to important board obligations made before being appointed to office is not "doing personal business" and was a legitimate reason to be excused. I had previously voted on this very issue as a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Let me be quite clear with regard to Mr. Rammes' third issue, that of not testifying at a recent hearing on a bill sponsored by Sen. Larry Haines regarding development in agricultural areas (Senate Bill 649). I did not testify because I as not informed of the hearing. Having previously expressed my concern over this bill, I can only assume that my presence was not wanted at that hearing.

This bill creates an unpleasant tension between agricultural equity interests and growth management interests, and I agree with many Carroll residents who feel there should have been a specific public hearing to address these complex concerns. I will not be supporting this bill when it comes to the House; however, because of the tradition of local courtesy, the bill will more than likely pass.

As Mr. Rammes correctly points out, I have two more years to serve in Annapolis. It has been my plan for this session to listen, learn and legislate carefully so that I am able to serve the citizens of the 5th district diligently and honorably for the remaining two years.

Ellen L. Willis


The writer is a state delegate representing Legislative District 5.

Problem with guns isn't rats in barn

It appears that a vote on handgun control in Maryland is near. Opponents have brought up the same objections, insisting that it threatens their Second Amendment rights and that it only makes it more difficult for honest citizens to buy guns. This could be true, but in a desperate attempt to make handguns less objectionable, one opponent went so far as to say that handguns are used to hunt game and that farmers commonly use them "to shoot rats in a barn."

As a teen, I can remember spending many hours at night plunking at rats in the corn cribs, but a .22-caliber rifle with hollowpoint shells was always the preferred and most practical tool and anyone who would believe that hunting rats with a handgun is productive has my sympathy.

The truth is that handguns are made for one reason, and one reason only -- to kill human beings. Of course, opponents are quick to point out, autos kill humans as do knives and even baseball bats, but as anyone who has seen a Ferrari or watched the Love Chef or hit a home run can attest, there are numerous reasons to question such illogical thoughts. Just like nerve gas, hydrogen bombs or A-10 tank killers, handguns have one purpose and one purpose only -- to kill.

As a retired member of the military, I have experienced thousands of hours in training in order to learn how to control, maintain, repair, secure and, above all, to understand the enormous killing power designed into these weapons. But the most important training of all was learning to mentally and morally accept the immense responsibility involved when these weapons are used and the terrible consequences, if used.

I have never questioned a citizen's right to own, use and keep firearms, and I will defend to the end any attempt to deny Americans this privilege. But the moment a gun is purchased, the responsibility to maintain, secure and to use it safely falls directly on the owner. If, through negligence, a handgun, specifically, is stolen or sold illegally and it somehow carries out the act which it was designed to do, then the owner must accept responsibility. This I understand and accept. For that reason, I will never own a handgun.

The General Assembly must pass this bill and make gun owners understand and accept the responsibility of owning a handgun.

Vince DePalmer


Back-scratching in Annapolis

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