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February 24, 2009

Random Thoughts

Farrell Keough

Last time we were together, we discussed the plan by the Frederick County Board of Education to continue on its path to build their Taj Mahal in downtown Frederick. Since that time, I have received a copy of a soil analysis on the property. The levels of arsenic and mercury were well beyond acceptable health standards.


If you will recall, the proposed clean up for this building was around $30,000. While there may be a tight rock formation preventing leaching of these constituents into the groundwater, (I have no evidence either way), just the clean up alone will likely range into much, much higher costs.


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Gov. Martin O’Malley is expecting funds from the Stimulus Package to bail our deficit out for this year. He had promised to pay his state-level debts off and prevent the furloughs and layoffs so necessary in our over-expanded government. To this end, our local governments are also hoping for significant help in paying its debts.


Over 50% of our county taxes go to the school system. It seems very unlikely we will see this money spent wisely.


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A number of bills are currently progressing in the Maryland General Assembly in an attempt to ensure people applying for drivers’ licenses have proper documentation. Bill HB 195: Proof of Lawful Presence Act of 2009 will require that in order to obtain a Maryland drivers’ license, one must have proof of lawful presence in this country. Hearing for this bill will occur tomorrow at 1 P.M. (February 25) in the House Judiciary Committee.


“This bill has 61 co-sponsors and has been cross-filed by Senator Norman Stone (D., Baltimore County) as Senate Bill 369, on which a hearing will be held March 18 in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Your support of both of these bills, through attendance at the hearings, emailing, writing or calling committee members and your own elected officials, letters to the editor, or calls to radio talk shows are all necessary to push for its passage.


Maryland is one of only four states left (the only one east of the Rockies) that does not require legal presence to receive a state driver’s license. Out of country applications are overwhelming our Motor Vehicle Administration.


While Speaker of House Michael Busch (D., Anne Arundel) has verbalized his support of this bill, this encouraging statement may not yield the final desired outcome. Delegate Joseph F. Vallario (D., Prince George’s), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, opposes this bill. The leadership looks to be endorsing a two-tier licensing system: one for those who are here legally and another for those who have entered our borders illegally.


While many of the members supporting this bill are on the House Judiciary Committee, this will not prevent shenanigans. Many lobbyists and attorneys representing Casa de Maryland, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, will be in attendance opposing this bill. It has been the policy of Delegate Vallario to allow these speakers to address the committee well in advance of others desiring to speak. It is likely that those in attendance supporting this bill will be waiting many hours to have their say.


Getting this bill out of the Judiciary Committee will be the first step toward passage. If you can attend the hearing, please do so. Otherwise, following the advice to email your representative as well as call radio talk shows, or write a letter to the editor will be greatly appreciated.


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Finally, yet another bill to allow in-state tuition for those here illegally is being put forward. House Bill 612 will be heard today and Senate Bill 41 will be heard March 17. As you may recall, I wrote on such a bill last year.


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It is unlikely those in favor of supporting illegal activity in our borders will have an epiphany and realize they are subrogating the Constitution. Our vigilance is necessary and must be continuous on matters such as this.


HB 195: HB 659 and HB 742 also endorse this approach and will be heard at the same time. Due to the cumbersome nature of legislation, it is necessary to put all focus on one set of bills, hence supporting these two similar bills will not achieve the desire to pass such new law. Other bills to support that duplicate the above are House Bill 387 and Senate Bill 244, which will be heard as well on the above dates. – per a legislative update email.


(Editor’s Note: To see an explanation of the Bills discussed in this column, you can click on the following link and follow directions to the appropriate bill number. )

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