Wednesday, January 28, 2009

6th District Delegates 2009 - John Olszewski

Following my post on Weir, I'd like to review the record thus far from the youngest of my three Delegates, John A. Olszewski, Jr. His father is a member of the Baltimore County Council.

Unlike Weir, Olszewski has actually written a few pieces of legislation this session in addition to his co-sponsorship. He is the primary sponsor of three bills and co-sponsoring sixteen. Since Olszewski felt so strongly that he had to draft three pieces of legislation, I shall review them first.

The first is HB21 which would legalize gambling...for fantasy sports. If you manage a fantasy sports team and it's the activity includes a prize for the winning fantasy team, the way legislation is currently written in Maryland this is illegal. As one who could care less if people want to gamble, at face value I have no problem with this legislation. My problem with this is one very critical piece of language in Section (A) Subsection (4) which reads - "No winning outcome is based...(II) On the score, point spread, or any performances of any single real-world team or any combination of real-world teams." The emphasis is mine. This section, effectively keeps fantasy sports as gambling illegal. How? Think about it for a moment - fantasy sports management is based on a persons ability to manage a combination of players from a variety of teams, and the outcome of this fantasy sports game is based on the performance of a combination of real-world teams or, if the player is a hardcore fan, may be based on the performance of a single team. If the outcome is not based on performance of these teams, then what is it based on? If it's based on "your ability to select the best team," then it's still based on the performance of "...any combination of real-world teams." I think Delegate Olszewski needs to reread this language or if I'm mistaken, please explain how this doesn't effectively defeat the purpose of the bill.

The second bill, HB 25, makes it so that motor scooters can not drive on roads with a posted speed limit higher than 30 miles per hour. Currently, the law states 50 mph is the fastest roadway a motor scooter can drive on. A motor scooter is defined in Maryland as seen here. Effectively, a motor scooter is an unregisterable vehicle with a size limit, if it goes above that - it becomes a motorcycle. This is actually an understandable piece of legislation. If a motor scooter is not a registerable motorized vehicle then it makes sense for it to not be allowed on highways. I actually understand this piece of legislation.

The third bill is HB179, which I discussed earlier pertaining to Todd's Inheretance and a waste of $250,000. We don't need to go any further into this one.

What else are the priorities of Olszewski? He wants the state University system to establish a "truth program" to make sure everyone knows every cost of textbooks and that a cost analysis is performed and disclosed to students before switching textbook editions. The cost analysis has to be in depth in determining the worth of purchasing a new textbook edition. It's an entire "bill of rights" for textbooks to try to help control the costs. Frankly, it seems like a waste of time and adds an unnecessary level of bureaucracy to colleges. He co-sponsors legislation to an electronic abandoned property database and removing newspaper notice requirements. I understand making the abandoned property records more streamlined and modern, but I don't know if we're fully ready to remove all newspaper references. He wants to decrease the homestead tax credit. He wants to force the MDE to partially pay for new on-site sewage systems after adding additional requirements for a facility installing one. He wants there to be a Negro Baseball Day as a state holiday as the second Saturday in May. He, Minnick, and Weir want to ban texting while driving, (which I'm perfectly fine with). He also has a few co-sponsored pieces of legislation involving stricter penalties for driving away from an accident that leads to death or injury.

All in all, Olszewski's sponsorship record is mixed. It includes a mix of useful legislation and wastes of time and money. I hope the rest of his record leans towards the useful for the rest of his tenure. He's currently got poor ratings from conservative interest groups.

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