Rani Merryman is a Republican candidate in the 8th Legislative District for the House of Delegates in Maryland. Her background is varied - working at a number of different small busineses before becoming a stay at home mom when her youngest child was born. She wants to be a citizen legislator and is running for the future of our State. She was willing to sit down and answer a few of my questions in an e-mail based interview. Here are her responses.
M.R. Newman: If you could summarize your campaign in a single sentence, what would you say?I'd like to thank Rani Merryman for her honest and interesting answers. She was intereviewed by the Baltimore Examiner here, if you wanted to learn more about her candidacy.
Rani Merryman: As a mother, community leader, taxpayer and concerned citizen, I will fight for the interest of the people, not the special interest groups, as well as challenge legislators to help the small business community.
MRN: If elected, what would be the first piece of legislation you would propose in the 2011 legislative session?
RM: Establish a Sunset Committee—This committee will scrutinize state programs to determine if they are necessary and where they can be cut. This committee will investigate duplication of services and to make sure programs are still necessary. It will allow for greater accountability in tax dollars. In Annapolis we have tons of committees devoted to spending our tax dollars. We need at least one committee looking for ways to cut spending. This is common sense reform that will make strategic ongoing cuts rather than one-time, across the board cuts. Agencies being reviewed by the Sunset Committee could automatically be terminated without new legislation to continue them.
MRN: Maryland currently has an estimated $2 billion budget deficit, what do you feel can be done to fill this budget gap besides tax hikes?
RM: Legislators must be able to stand for the citizens they represent, even if that means the unpopular decision to send a budget back to the administration until it returns as a fiscally sound proposal. The initial role of government is to provide basic infrastructure, law enforcement and education to name a few. When adopting a budget that is bloated with special interest bureaucratic favors, we jeopardize ALL of the necessary programs as well as the wish list projects. Entitlement spending MUST be curtailed and systematically reduced until we are no longer outspending our revenue and have reduced the tax burden on residents.
We have a duty to the residents of Maryland to champion a tax structure that is congruent with economic growth for private citizens, which encourages private sector job creation. The economy and meaningful private sector jobs have to be our first priority, especially now. When I was growing up, if we wanted a new scoreboard for the stadium at school, we raised the money through the booster clubs. It could take years to achieve our goals. When the project was complete, it was a big deal in our community, everyone knew about it. You had either been selling ham sandwiches for years or eating ham sandwiches for years. Everyone in the community was invested in the project. By cutting taxes for the residents of MD and putting the power of their income back in their hands to do as they see fit, jobs will be created by small business and communities will support the programs and businesses that work for their residents.
MRN: What is your opinion of the current incumbents (Boteler, Bromwell, and Schuler) in the 8th House of Delegates district?
RM: Right now our state is faced with a deep recession. Our legislative leaders must be focused on improving our economy. I admire Delegate Boteler’s 100% rating with the National Federation of Independent Business – our nation’s leading small business association. Regarding the voting records of the other District 8 legislators, you can refer to my position regarding legislators willing to stand up to their party to vote against the Administration. When it comes to issues such as the budget, those who voted to pass the largest increase in Maryland’s history on the most recent budget, I find them to be just as culpable by simply acquiescing.
MRN: In 2010, Maryland voters will once again have the opportunity to vote to hold a Constitutional convention. Would you be in favor of a Constitutional convention?
RM: While our state has many issues, by re-writing the language of our Constitution, we create the possibility of giving more power to the federal government and less to the state. The idea of the Constitution is to protect the people from an over reaching government, used in that manner, it does a good job. I have not seen a systemic failure in the Maryland Constitution; No matter this constitution or another, it is only as good as the citizens it protects and their willingness to understand and enforce the rules it conveys.
I am hoping to see a government renaissance of sorts that would raise the interest, education and knowledge of how American government works at every level to protect the citizens. If we can achieve that goal, I think we might be more well suited to hold a Constitutional Convention in the future. At this time, I cannot say that I would be in favor of a Constitutional Convention.
MRN: Marylanders for Responsible Enforcement is collecting signatures to reverse a decision made by the Legislature to implement speed cameras in school and construction zones. What is your opinion on these efforts?
RM: I agree whole heartedly with the efforts to remove the speed cameras. I testified in front of the Baltimore County Council on this issue. Simply put, speed cameras don’t work. First, imposing law that is incongruent with our legal system should not be allowed. There is no opportunity to face your accuser. We cannot create legislation that subverts existing law.
The speed camera legislation is simply a revenue bill. Choosing instead to place police officers on the street in place of cameras we are maintaing local jobs, protecting citizens and their rights as well as deterring other forms of crime at the same time. The communities in Maryland deserve safe and empowered communities in which to raise their families and as legislators this premise should be our first priority.
MRN: On your website, you mention a Buy Local Initiative. Can you tell me a little more about this initiative? Is this a legislative initiative or a personal initiative?
RM: It is indeed a personal initiative though could also have legislative possibilities. The idea behind a buy local initiative is simple. When residents spend their money at locally owned brick and mortar businesses, they are promoting our local economy. Tax dollars are paid into our state, the salaries of sustainable private sector jobs are funneled back into our community through the purchase of goods and services and local residents who work at these establishments support our infrastructure with the property taxes they pay.
It is my goal to create legislation that champions local business; grow Maryland’s economy by enacting tax relief for small business who sell their goods and services predominantly here at home. Let’s provide sales tax relief for Maryland consumer’s that buy “Made in Maryland” products.
I love to see communities that employ and support the majority of their residents. I have been hard pressed to find anyone that will disagree, our communities have been breaking down for years. With a buy local initiative, communities are one step closer to the neighborhood of yesterday and supporting the endeavors of our residents rather than financing big corporate agendas.