March 08, 2009

Historic tax credits also aid environment

Lorraine Mirabella's article on reauthorization of historic tax credits did an excellent job discussing the economic benefits of passing the bill ("Tax credits for renovation," March 3). Unfortunately, it failed to mention the important environmental benefits this Smart Growth bill would have.

Everyone in the state benefits when older areas are redeveloped. If we are not redeveloping our older communities, we end up building new subdivisions on open space in places such as Silver Spring and the Eastern Shore.

Historic rehabilitation tends to occur in densely populated areas that benefit from good access to transit. Redeveloping these areas reduces congestion on Maryland's busy roads and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Local governments often see high costs as a significant barrier to the redevelopment of urban and core-suburban areas. The historic tax credit would mitigate that barrier and relieve some pressure to develop Maryland's increasingly sparse forests and farmlands.

Preventing such green-field development has enormous benefits for Maryland's environment, including decreased storm water run-off and decreased nitrogen pollution into the bay.

And it would save local governments and the state from the costly expansion of infrastructure associated with green-field development.

Mike Sherling, Baltimore

The writer is a policy associate for Environment Maryland.

Missing a chance to end injustice

I am disappointed that Maryland has apparently missed an opportunity to advance human rights by failing to repeal the death penalty ("Death penalty limits advance," March 5).

The compromise that has been offered - to limit the death penalty to cases where conviction results from a very high quality of evidence - may seem at first glance like a good interim solution. However, the effect will be unequal justice in murder cases.

How can we justify basing the nature of the penalty on the quality of the evidence rather than the nature of the crime?

The only real solution is to repeal the death penalty outright.

We know mistakes will be made and innocent defendants will be convicted.

That should be the end of the discussion.

Michael H. Holmes, Gaithersburg

Democrats distort a critical debate

I would like to congratulate the Democrats in the Maryland Senate for their actions on the Senate floor during the death penalty debate ("Death penalty limits advance," March 5).

They stumbled and bumbled their way to an amended bill that will essentially create a loophole for murder-for-hire cases since there may be no biological or videotaped evidence to demonstrate such charges and that kind of evidence is required to use the death penalty under the amended bill's language.

Add to that the chaos and confusion on the Senate floor caused by their end run around the Judicial Proceedings Committee and we have the Democrats behaving like Democrats again.

That would be great entertainment except that the subject is so serious.

Maryland deserves better, much better.

Michael D. Rausa, Forest Hill

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