Annapolis Dispatches

Annapolis Dispatches

No Montgomery

One local lawmaker didn’t like the Go Montgomery funding bill. Montgomery County’s assembly delegation voted in favor of the proposal to add a surcharge of up to $54 to the $76 residents already pay to register their cars. Del. Jean Cryor (R-15) was one of eight who voted against it.

“There’s a certain point where you say no,” Cryor said.

The bill is estimated to raise $20 million a year to help fund County Executive Doug Duncan’s (D) transportation plan.

Her main problem with the proposal was what she views as its regressive nature. This bill is applied to all vehicle owners who register in the county — regardless of income level, age or usage.

“Most of the time you would pull out certain groups,” Cryor said.

She said that the issue was discussed, but that no viable solutions were presented.

She was concerned that trucking interests — which contribute significantly to the county’s traffic problem — might avoid the tax altogether. Unless the company has an office in the county, they would not be subject to the surcharge. “There seems to be no way to catch them,” Cryor said.

Cryor also expressed concern that there was no mechanism to prevent the study of the techway. She said received assurances from the Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) that the only possibility for such a bridge would come in Frederick County or the tip of Montgomery County. “In these tight fiscal times, it is the height of folly to spend money on such studies,” Cryor said.

Cryor was upset that the proposal, which she views as a tax increase, didn’t have a public hearing. She also asserts that the bill was different from the version proposed in Rockville. “It’s completely different as a funding source,” she said.

“If a bill has this many loose ends, it’s not ready yet,” Cryor said. If it was so critical to get passed this session, it should be worked on more vigorously. If it was not that critical, “do it over the summer, when you have time to fix the problems,” Cryor said.

The bill will now go the county’s senate delegation. If it passes there it will go to the full assembly.

Anti-Terrorism Legislation

Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-15) has introduced emergency legislation to restrict access to schematics of privately owned buildings. There is currently legislation which restricts access to government buildings. “All I’m saying is, apply that to private buildings as well,” Garagiola said.

He cited an FBI warning from last May which went out to apartment complexes warning that terrorists might try to rent an apartment and rig it with explosives.

“There’s a real concern here that someone is going to request these schematics to wreak havoc,” Garagiola said.

According to Garagiola, the legislation will allow the custodian of the records to deny access if allowing it might facilitate the planning of a terrorist attack. He said there is a process in place if a person believes that they were unfairly denied the records. “If you really want it, and you have a legitimate reason to get it, you can get it,” Garagiola said.

He said the measure is supported by the Senate Majority and Minority leaders, along with many other senators from both sides of the aisle. “There are good, bi-partisan supporters of this bill,” he said.

Calling the bill “emergency” will allow it to go into effect the day it is signed by the governor. “We are trying to act fast,” Garagiola said.