Friday, January 30, 2009

6th District Delegates 2009 - Joseph Minnick

My third in this series of 6th District Delegates is Joseph Minnick. Minnick, like Weir, has not been the primary sponsor of a single piece of legislation this session. I've already discussed a few pieces of legislation he co-sponsored along with Olszewski and Weir previously, so to further try to discern the political philosophy of Delegate Minnick, we'll have to look at the pieces of legislation that he's co-sponsoring separately.

First, let's discuss HB126. HB126 is a bill regarding gift cards and gift certificates. What does it do? It requires that if a gift card/certificate is not used for one year or after four years from the purchase of said gift card/certificate, that the seller is required to remit 70% the remaining balance of the card to the state of Maryland. Yes, if you have a $100 gift card, use it once early on and don't for a year - 70% of the remaining balance would become the State of Maryland's to keep. Also, sellers of gift cards in Maryland are required to provide the Comptroller with a status update annually to make sure they can keep track of all the gift card balances. Exceptions exist for gift cards with written expiration dates that are greater than four years, phone cards, public transit cards, and those sold by charities. But that's about it. This piece of legislation is an attempt by the state to take your gift cards if you don't use them in the timeframe the state allows.

He, like his co-delegates in the district, co-sponsors some bureucratic legislation that may cause problems for the market down the line. One piece of legislation requires that anything with animal fur to have a tag which specifies what the animal is and where the animal came from. This is a noble thought, but when you are producing furs for multiple states and with multiple pelts from multiple locations, it will become difficult to track the location from which each fur arose and irritating if Maryland is the only state where you are selling said furs to require this information.

He does co-sponsor a few good things, such as an extension of the tax exemption for veteran organizations and the proof of presence act. One of my favorite bills is actually an amendment to the state Constitution, HB284. This Constitutional amendment would establish a redistricting committee composed of seven members. The first four will be appointed by the legislature, one each from the majority and minority leader of each legislative body. The four of them will then vote for three more from a list of 30 names given them by the Court of Appeals. No more than 2 independent voters or members from the same political party in the state may be on the committee. What does this mean? It means that at least one member of the committee is required to be a member of a third party, a Libertarian, Green, or Populist/Independent. Also, each member can NOT have held public office or run for public office within three years of their appointment to this committee. What's interesting about that is that if Steele or Ehrlich do not run for office in 2010, both are eligible for this committee as it will have been a full four years since they previously had run for public office. This Constitutional amendment, which Minnick is the first co-sponsor, would be a boon to Maryland Republicans helping provide them with a way to have a fairer redistricting after the 2010 census. The only suggestion I would make is to allow one appointment by the Governor to provide closer to equal involvement in all three branches of the state's government.

Minnick has a mixed record that becomes more mixed when you review his interest group ratings. He's been consistently rated as 100% supporting the Right to Life views in Maryland, has a center-right view according to right-leaning economics groups and besides the 2006 legislative session has been less than 50% in support of the Maryland State Teacher's Association. He's gotten a less than 50% rating from Progressive groups, strong support from Maryland Gun Owners of America, and he actively opposed the Maryland indoor clean air act. All in all, Minnick is a right to center-right kind of guy which makes me thoroughly confused by his support of HB126. Frankly, Minnick comes across as the kind of Democrat that a Republican like me would consider voting for. Yet, his support of HB126 continues to make me wary.

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