Dysfunctional delegation Annapolis: Anne Arundel lawmakers have offered some of session's most bizarre bills.

March 19, 1998

SOMEONE AT THE WATER plant for Anne Arundel County should check whether the local drinking supply has been tainted. How else to explain the behavior of the county's delegation to the General Assembly?

The group got off to a bad start, with six Democrats complaining that they had been ignored for ceremonial leadership posts by the seven Republicans in the majority. The Republicans replied that the Democrats were unfortunately absent from the meeting when officers were chosen. Kids organize treehouse clubs with more order and collegiality.

Del. Michael W. Burns won office in the Republican tide of 1994 as, presumably, a free-market conservative. Yet he floated the decidedly socialist notion of having the legislature fix prices for a nonessential commodity, Orioles and Ravens tickets. The Glen Burnie delegate overlooked the fact that in supply-and-demand economics, consumers retain an option if tickets rise higher in price than they care to pay: Don't buy them.

Del. James E. Rzepkowski, another Glen Burnie Republican, proposed having Anne Arundel secede from Maryland, at least as it regards state requirements for a high school diploma. He and some colleagues can't get over the fact that Maryland became the first state to require graduates to do "service learning." Though the rule has been controversial, having young people volunteer in their communities is beneficial. Also, the state hasn't been a bully about enforcement.

Indeed, some schools merely allow students to "learn" volunteerism in the classroom, the equivalent of passing driver's education without ever getting into a car. Out of the mouths of babes, teen-agers recounted their rewarding volunteer experiences for the legislators and urged that the county not opt out.

Then there's Del. George W. Owings III, whose district straddles the Anne Arundel-Calvert county line. He drove a Harley-Davidson into a conference room to make his case for repealing the mandatory helmet law. As all can see, he said, motorcycles are such patently unsafe vehicles, operators don't need government telling them whether they need head protection. Such contorted logic should necessitate use of a helmet, too.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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