Tuesday, January 27, 2009

6th District Delegates 2009 - Michael Weir

Since the beginning of this legislative session, I'd like to take a moment and look at how my three Delegates are holding their own for the 2009-2010 legislative session. To start, here are the bills sponsored by Delegates Olszewski, Minnick, and Weir. I'll begin with Delegate Michael Weir. So far, Weir has co-sponsored 11 pieces of legislation. He is not the primary sponsor of a single piece of legislation. I give Weir, (along with Minnick and Olszewski) kudos for supporting legislation barring those here illegally from obtaining a driver's license. But is where my credit granting ends.

Two of these pieces of legislation are pork, "Creation of State Debt" specific to feed money into places in Baltimore County. These are quick and fun ways to shore up votes, by pointing to something you helped fix up. Minnick and Olszewski co-sponsored each of the two pieces of legislation as well. The first is for the Owings Mills Jewish Community Center, to allow them to purchase an electric generator for their emergency shelter. This will go up to, but not exceed, $500,000 assuming they can meet whatever the state gives them and do not use the money for religious purposes. Helping upkeep an emergency shelter is admirable and so long as if a state of emergency is called, anyone from the community can use their facility, I have would normally have no problem with this. But, when we are in a financial crisis, half a million dollars can not be just doled out to a community center. Another $250,000 is being offered for the upkeep of Todd's Inheritance. For those who don't know, Todd's Inheritance is considered a historic site because it was owned at one point by the family of Mary Todd Lincoln. Not by Mary Todd Lincoln, mind you, but by members of her family. Just as with the previous debt creation, this one should not even be considered at this time with the financial burden currently sitting on the state. When state workers need to be laid off, we shouldn't consider handing a quarter million to fix up a "historic" building that provides zero tourism revenue to the state or local government.

What additional pieces of legislation did Delegate Weir co-sponsor? Weir, Minnick, and Olszewski team up with a number of Delegates to support legislation which reduces the number of years of creditable service required of a member of the State Retirement and Pension System to accrue by 3 to obtain a military service credit. I'm not sure where this number comes from. I can see 10 years as a milestone, I can even see 5 years if the credit was tiered, but I don't understand 7. If anyone can explain where this seemingly random number arose form, I'd be grateful.

Weir also co-sponsored A piece of legislation to make property tax assessments annual instead of triennial, the cost of which is not entirely clear. I also am unclear of the benefit of this besides to potentially a) cost the state money in the number of required employees to implement this bill and b) cost the taxpayers more money as their property taxes increase on a more rapid basis. Another is a piece of legislation which makes manufacturer warranties of home appliances enforcable explicitly by law. It also specifies that the under certain circumstances the manufacturer would have to reimburse the consumer of their full purchase price (sans "reasonable allowances") or replace with a "comparable home appliance." This bill creates new bureaucracy, will require additional funds for enforcement, and adds undue requirements onto manufacturers. If a product does not function, then allow the warranty to suffice. Also, I hope this legislation defines what a "home appliance" includes. Will the State of Maryland begin requiring manufacturers to entirely replace and reimburse consumers for a faulty toaster? Also, what is defined as a comparable home appliance? Is comparable based on consumer reports or based directly on cost? Speaking of additional bureaucracy, Weir and Olszewski want to establish an Athletic Training Advisory Committee to certify athletic trainers. Is this really one of the most pressing issues facing the state of Maryland? Do we really have that many uncertified athletic trainers running around and training atheletes in an inappropriate fashion? Really, inquiring minds want to know.

In summary, Delegate Weir has not written a single piece of legislation in this new session and co-sponsored a variety of bills, none of which actually address concerns about budget shortfalls. If Weir's 11 co-sponsorships are to be taken at face value, increasing tax assessment timeframes, pork projects, and unlicensed athletic trainers are incredibly pressing issues facing out state. I remain unimpressed.

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