Q: What one thing would you most like to see the General Assembly accomplish this session?

Offering a new agenda for Maryland lawmakers

Question Of The Month

February 26, 2005

A blow for social justice is the accomplishment I hope to see by the end of the General Assembly session.

The legislature is considering a bill to impose a major new tax on the poor, the working middle class and senior citizens by way of slot machines. It would be hard to imagine a more unjust tax measure.

No one expects the rich and affluent to play slots. But working men and working women would drop by the neighborhood slots parlor Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday. Some would pump their entire paychecks into the machines while their children wait outside in the minivan.

To be fair, there would be benefits.

Millions in benefits would flow to the needy owners of racetracks and the needy out-of-state gambling corporations eager to run the casinos. Millions more would flow to the gentlemen farmers who keep their money and their pastures green with horse manure.

What's left will go to the state as revenue, protecting the rich and the corporations from having to pick up their fair share of tax burden.

It will be the work of justice when delegates hammer a big nail through the heart of this slot machines tax bill.

Bernie Hayden

Rodgers Forge

End the discussion of slots.

I have been opposed to slots from the outset, mainly because the ultimate losers would be those who play the machines.

The people of Maryland would also, of course, be losers, whether they play or not, because any so-called profits would ultimately wind up in the hands of the greedy owners of the slots.

My message is only five words: Take a stand against slots.

Robert G. Smith

Chestertown

I would like the General Assembly to accept the fact that Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was elected governor by the people of Maryland, with a platform including legalized slot machines and other methods to reduce the tax burden.

Richard Tatlow

Marriottsville

The one thing I would most like the General Assembly to accomplish would be to discover civility and work in a bipartisan manner to respond to the will of the people.

But based on the events of the last two years, that appears to be Mission Impossible. The majority party, having lost the governorship for the first time in decades, has degenerated into a mass of petulant, obstructionist whiners who are bound and determined to prevent the governor from moving toward the goals for which he was elected.

How does that serve the assembly's constituents?

It is time for that nonsense to stop and for the legislature to do what it was hired to do.

W. C. Harsanyi

Pasadena

If I could have just one wish for the General Assembly, it would have to be (to borrow a word from the governor) "respect." I wish that the General Assembly would have "respect" for the people who voted its members into office.

This means that they would fight for the rights of the citizens of Maryland and not for their party, whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

But so often after they are voted into office, state legislators go along their party lines -- and they forget what their constituents wanted.

Kathy Riley

Baltimore

No budget cuts.

Cuts in recent years have inexcusably and tragically decimated necessary governmental duties in social services, health care, education, transportation and other needs of Baltimore and the counties.

This tragedy needs to be rectified this year by adding revenue through taxes, fees, slots or any combination thereof.

Harry E. Bennett Jr.

Baltimore

A great accomplishment for the General Assembly would be to pass legislation that would protect Maryland's open spaces.

While there is existing legislation that is designed to do this through Program Open Space, the state government has abused the loopholes in these laws in ways that make the program ineffective.

These loopholes include allowing secret land deals and raiding the funds intended for land conservation.

There is legislation before the General Assembly during this session that would require sales of public land to be done in full public view and include permanent protection. It would also cap the amount that can be borrowed from land preservation programs and require loans from those programs to be paid back.

As a lover of the outdoors and wildlife, I advocate that the assembly make passing this legislation a priority.

Patricia Houck

Chester

The General Assembly must write laws protecting the personal information of all Maryland residents.

A proper law would state that no one has the right to anyone's personal information without that person's express consent.

Every citizen owns his or her personal information, and only that person, and no one else, has any right to it.

Lawrence Brown

Fallston

Despite the self-serving protests of the trial lawyers' lobby, the General Assembly must pass meaningful, long-lasting, medical liability reform now.

Without it, the viability of the medical profession, hospitals and nursing homes is in great danger -- and that endangers the health of all Marylanders.

Dr. Scott E. Maizel

Baltimore

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