Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

House of Delegates District 9A – Forum

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, October 5, 2006

This is a long one.  5,800 words… 

Question: What are your positions on particular items regarding Election Day reforms for the state of Maryland? Specifically, please address the issues of early voting, voter identification at the polls using photo ID or documentation, and a voter verified paper trail for all votes cast.

David Osmundson (D) 

We should do everything possible to encourage people to vote and to participate honestly. Republicans have offered several ways to suppress voting. There should be equal opportunity to vote and there should be sufficient polling places that operate efficiently. In Maryland, they ask you several questions that would make fraudulent voting next to impossible. Nationally, there has been something like only 52 cases of prosecuted fraudulent voting cases in the last 5 years. The Republicans are trying to keep people who tend to vote Democrat at home. We need verified honest voting in Maryland. Early voting encourages people to vote if they are busy on Election Day.

Gail Bates (R)

I support use of photo ID and a verified paper trail for voters. Voters should vote in their home jurisdiction or by absentee ballot. If appropriate controls are in place, I would support 1 day of early voting as is done successfully in North Carolina.

Warren Miller (R)

On the issue of early voting, while it is a practice adopted by other states Maryland’s problems with the “E-Poll” books and the lack of a state wide e-voter list display is why I am opposed to early voting at this time, I was also disappointed at the Legislatures Liberal leadership’s refusal to allow early voting locations at military bases in Maryland.

We need to adopt a voter identification standard in Maryland; the opportunity for voter fraud with the current system is well documented.

I supported a verified voter paper trail and was dismayed when the liberal majority in the State Senate killed this initiative.

I thought this might be a boring question.  The answers tended to liven it up.  I didn’t know that the General Assembly didn’t allow early voting locations to be placed on military bases.  I knew the leadership picked all the early polling locations – remember the Washington Post editorial “Tilting the Vote” on this?  I also support some type of voter identification and a verified paper trail.  Remember Ellen and Parris?  It was a fiasco and in reality it made Florida look good.

I don’t oppose early voting as long as we can model a successful effort in another State.

I think Gail and Warren offer a balanced perspective.

As for David’s comments.  I wish he would elaborate on the several ways that Republican’s have attempted to suppress votes.  As to sufficient quantity of polling places.  I agree and this is the first time I ever heard anyone imply (I think he was implying) enough do not exist.  I have voted in Maryland for 12 years.  The only question I have ever been asked is “How are you today?”  and “May I please have your name?” .  I offer to spell my last name without being asked.  Perhaps David will tell us what those questions might be.  Now, Republican’s don’t want people to vote Democrat anymore that Democrats want people to vote Republican.  That doesn’t mean that their is an organized suppression going on.  The only type of voter suppression going on is inflammatory accusations like David’s – they suppress my desire to vote for him.   Lets be honest here.  Do your really really think Republican’s want to disenfranchise people anymore than Democrats?  I don’t believe Republicans or Democrats want to disenfranchise anyone.  I think bad people want to and they might on occasion be a member of this party or that.

As for people who are too busy to vote on Election Day.  Many States make it a holiday.  It doesn’t help much.  Additionally, they can vote absentee.  I did this year for the first time in 24 years of voting.  If people need an alternative to voting early what is wrong with absentee ballots – it gives one a paper trail and they can vote from the convenience of their home.

Question: Would you support or oppose a bill that would alter the current rate plan to allow citizens to “opt out” of the rate plan recently passed by the General Assembly and allow them to pay the full cost of the increase in energy costs each month to avoid paying interest charges?

David Osmundson (D) 

The General Assembly flunked Economics 101 when they de-regulated electricity because electricity is a “natural monopoly.” We can’t have delegates taking thousands of dollars while CEOs are making millions. They sold the citizens out for a few dollars. Constellation Energy spent $1.3 million dollars in lobbying in 1999 and just a few thousand last year. What does that tell you? What our Assembly needs to do is not be corrupted by big corporations. Ehrlich and my opponents favored BGE saying, “unless BGE is allowed to pass on its increased costs to customers, it may be forced to file bankruptcy, leaving Marylanders with no electric company at all.” Now, who on this planet believes that? Our General Assembly had six years to fix this and didn’t. And we shouldn’t have the Public Service Commission being the fox guarding the hen house. They are supposed to be for the public and not the big corporations. As to the question, I don’t think you should offer a band aid to a citizen stabbed with a knife!

Gail Bates (R)

I support opt out and for that and other reasons voted against the bill and the veto override. I am thrilled that the Courts overturned the section abolishing the Public Service Commission and for the very reasons they cited.

Warren Miller (R)

I will support and push for an opt-out arrangement for electrical rate payers. I am still disappointed that the result of the Special Session was such a rip off for BG&E ratepayers.  The Legislature and the Governor arranged for low on no interest solutions in the original bills and an additional $200 million in concessions from Constellation, during the special session interest shot up to an average of 25% for ratepayers and consumers lost the concession from the company. In my opinion this is another reason to vote for Republicans in November.  the current party in charge of the legislature created this mess with deregulation & rate caps in 1999 and then tried to blame our Governor during the special session.  blame should be placed by the voters squarely on their shoulders.

I tend to agree with all these statements except BGE going bankrupt.  Maybe not bankrupt but near bankrupt.  It would not be the first Electric Utility to go bankrupt.  Pacific Gas & Electric, a number who constructed nuclear plantscame close, Katrina drove New Orlean’s Entergy in to Chapter 7 (Katrina was a natural disaster and Maryland Deregulation was a man made disaster), Northwest Corp., etc.  My point is that they do go bankrupt and it was not unreasonable to suggest it could have happened here in Maryland.

Something had to be done and the General Assembly didn’t do anything and when they couldn’t pass the red face test they blamed the Republican Governor up for re-election.  It was a pitiful and disgraceful way to conduct the people’s business.

Some other contributors suggested that their was no way to allow an opt out as the costs were unpredictable.  Well, Ehrlich found a way and the General Assembly could have found a way too.

Question: Why are you a member of the political party that you are a member of?

David Osmundson (D)  

I’m a Democrat because we are pro-active and not reactive. A Democrat is supposed to begin with the people and put their trust in the brotherhood of humankind as “one nation under God.”  Most often, Democrats say “we” instead of “me” and by that I mean that Democrats seek the group good over personal gain. As Hubert Humphrey said, “[Democrats] are characterized by a warm heart, an open mind, and willing hands.” I know my party isn’t perfect, but as Harry Truman said, “people want the real thing.”  Ultimately, voters should vote for character, judgment, and effectiveness.

Gail Bates (R)

I believe in limited government and opportunity for all people coupled with personal responsibility. Government should not do for people what they can do for themselves. 

Warren Miller (R)

I spent my formidable high school watching President Jimmy Carter make a virtual mess out of the economy and our nation’s foreign policy. I had the opportunity to work for President Ronald Reagan in Presidential Personnel at the White House and moving forward from then I have witnessed first hand the innovation and leadership of the Republican Party. I am proud to be a Republican today.

I think the recurring theme we will see on this answer in all races are Democrats care about everyone and Republicans care about themselves.

Warren’s answer is interesting because I too grew up watching Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  Can one draw a starker contrast?

Republican’s start with The People too because we are The People too.  We want to remain part of The People Too and the best way to do that is limit the power and scope of Government.  I am not going into great detail here because I have already done so here.  Point is this folks.  I believe Dems and Reps want to accomplish the exact same-things.  We are all warm blooded creatures with the same feelings and emotions.  I think the difference is that the Democrats tend to want to use the power and influence of Government to do it all.  Republicans don’t trust Government to do it all – they have their role and it is limited – because they don’t do it all very well at all and such a strong and more powerful Government will be a threat to our civil liberties.  With that said the Democrats trust Government to do it right, Republicans don’t.  We both are on guard to protect civil liberties, but I don’t think Democrats believe that large excessive Government is just as threatening as their concerns about warrant-less wiretaps.

Question: Beyond funds for children with special needs whose education cannot be adequately provided for in our public schools, do you favor public funding of non-public schools in any way? If so, in what way?

David Osmundson (D) 

I do not favor public funding of non-public schools as we need to separate church and state. I have no objection to public schools providing books or equipment that will be thrown out. Let common sense overtake regulation.

Gail Bates (R)

I believe in vouchers so that parents with children in under-performing schools can choose what is best for their children.

Warren Miller (R)

Yes I favor Charter School Vouchers and text book funding for private schools. I think that parents should have a right to determine what the best course of education for their children is. I have chosen to put my children in Howard County public schools, however every parent should have a right to determine the best educational course for their children. And looking at the huge tax burden placed on Howard County Citizens for Education, parents who chose private education should expect assistance from the county and the state for their Children?s education.

Separation of Church and State?  That is a red herring in this case.  As long as all schools are treated equally their is no chance of Government favoring one over the other.  Separation of Church and State can not be found in the US Constitution either.  Give the kids worn and outdated books and equipment?  How generous.  What happened to the brotherhood of humankind as “one nation under God.”?

The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That’s all folks…no mention of any separation. The Constitution does not support a separation of church and state.   It does not support the state establishing a religion.  It does not support the State meddling in religion.  It says nothing about embracing religious principles, but our founders certainly embraced religious principles.

The father of the Constitution, James Madison, said “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the whole future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”   Well he wrote the thing – he’d know.

So, I pay taxes.  If I choose to send my kids to Catholic school should I still pay school taxes?  Yes?  Why?  Same argument if you ask me.

Senator Allan Kittleman makes a good point.  What if all the private schools closed down and all the kids went into the public school system?  Do you think that would improve our public schools or over burden them?  Would we pay more taxes or less?  Let me go a couple of steps further.  Do you think taking ten kids out of a failing school would hurt the school or help the school?  Do you think it would hurt the kids or help the kids?

As far as school transportation is concerned.  I think it is very reasonable to provide school busing.  I think if these kids are fed into a central public school and then picked up as a group and driven to their school that is completely acceptable and actually generous on the parents part.  I did it for five years.

Question:  Do you favor additional restrictions on or loosening restrictions on the right of a woman to choose abortion?

David Osmundson (D)

Abortion is a mute issue that has been decided by the Supreme Court and it is the law of the land. In Roe V. Wade the Republican appointed Justice tried to offer a solution that provided a woman the right to choose in the first three months of pregnancy. In the second trimester the state can intervene, and in the third trimester (human viability) the national government can intervene. This has been challenged something like 33 times since and it is now considered “super-constitutional.” I’m against abortion personally but I think this should be between a woman and her doctor and family and not between a woman and her politicians. Republicans use this issue as a political tool to create outrage. They do little to help expectant mothers or mothers after a baby is born. All life is precious and we should show compassion and not anger. This is a matter for the churches to seize the opportunity to lead,  not by laws but by compassion.

Gail Bates (R)

Additional restrictions such as parental notification, full information given to and explained to women regarding their options and consequences, and elimination of taxpayer funding for abortions.

Warren Miller (R)

I am pro-life and would like to see unnecessary abortions reduced drastically. I also believe that Clinics in Maryland should have to meet the same health and sanitary standards that Hospitals currently do and I was shocked to find out that there are currently no standards or requirements imposed by the State on abortion clinics.

David, I think you mean moot point.

I am also pro-life.  That means I oppose the death penalty too.  I agree with Pope John Paul II in that in many regards we live in a culture of death.  I don’t believe any person has the right to end a life.  I don’t care if it is a fetus or an embryo.  It is a life and even if you don’t believe it is then it will be someday.  It is not going to be a horse.  Are their exceptions OF COURSE.  Rape, Incest, Death of the Mother.

If this was a matter for the churches then the government never would have stepped in via the courts.   I agree with David that all life is precious and we should show compassion and not anger. But don’t give me the line that republicans use this issue as a political tool to create outrage.  Abortion is outrageous.  Don’t tell me that Republican do little to help expectant mothers or mothers after a baby is born.   Who do you think you are?  Their are people of many different party affiliations who help these mothers and babies.  I AM ONE OF THEM DAVID.  I adopted two.  Their are many Republicans and Democrats who do a lot to help these expectant mothers find an alternative.  They work in FREE clinics trying to help these mothers rather than in the FEE based clinics where the options are “limited”.

Now it seems as though some people think that prior to Roe v Wade abortion was illegal in the United States and all abortions were performed in back alleys.  Planned Parenthood would sure like you to think so (and also forget about their racist past history).  The fact is that in the ’60s and ’70s many States had liberalized abortion laws allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest, or various health reasons (Colorado, New York, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, etc). 

Now if you don’t think the State should be paying for text books, or busing for kids in parochial schools why do you think the State should pay for an abortion?

In the end it is settled law.  Abortions should be scarce, not paid for with tax dollars (previous exceptions excluded), clinics should be held to the highest standards, parental notifications, a focus on alternatives with assistance and support.

Question:  Now that emergency contraceptives are available to adults, would you favor making them also available to minors? If not, would you prefer that minor females who become pregnant be (a) required to give birth or (b) permitted to choose abortion on their own?

David Osmundson (D)

I’m told that the “morning after” pill prevents pregnancy and doesn’t abort pregnancy. A significant percentage of unwanted pregnancies are caused by incest. There ought to be places a minor female can go for help without it becoming a legal matter or a family matter. We need to have respect for the individual and their heartaches.

Gail Bates (R)

NO. We need to address the root cause of teen pregnancy and encourage abstinence. We need to educate young people about the health consequences of being sexually active, including unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Warren Miller (R)

I would prefer that the minors guardians make all decisions regarding their well being, generally I am concerned about minors having harmful reactions to drugs their parents have not approved and it’s a parent’s right to know about their children’s well being.

To be clear we are speaking about contraceptives and not the “abortion pill” here. 

David, your incest fact is true.  It is also true that most of the males involved are adults preying on a child under their influence.  I want it to be a legal matter and I want them to be in jail.  

If we are the “education society” we claim to be then we need to education our children and teach them proper behaviors.  Unfortunately some families are not equipped to do that.  So we need to work harder to help them. 

As a parent I embrace the abstinence first approach.  Wait until you are married.  Now I am not a fool.  This won’t work for every kid, but it is the first step in preventing these situations from ocurring.   We should be teaching our children about sex as Ehrlich says “It is time to talk”.  We can not shy away from the topic because it makes us uncomfortable or because they are curious or what ever the reason might be.  There is too much at stake.

There are many kinds of homes and some kids are better off than others and some kids don’t have ideal parents or worse.  I don’t want to tell a 15 year old girl who is going to get thrown out of her home because she became pregnant that she only has one option.  But we should not automatically think abortion is the right or first choice.  It should always be the last possible choice.  That takes commitment and hard work.  The only person that addresses the “root cause” of this problem is Gail Bates.  I would like to hear more details.

A minor child is not prepared to make such a decision without the guiding hand and experience of the parents.

Question: Do you favor a statewide smoking ban in restaurants, bars and places of employment?

David Osmundson (D)

Yes! If they can do it in Ireland they can do it in Maryland. Smoking kills and second-hand smoke is supposedly worse so why subject workers to those cancer hazards.

Gail Bates (R)

No.

Warren Miller (R)

No statewide ban is necessary if local jurisdictions can make this determination, like Howard County which just hurt local Bars and Restaurants that invested in upgrades to facilities and lost the money they invested in their businesses.

There is such a thing as a free enterprise system in this country.  If a bar wants to restrict smoking then they can.    If they don’t then they don’t have to.  Patrons can make their own decision whether to patronize either establishment.

Question: What is your opinion on laws regarding handguns and assault weapons bans?

David Osmundson (D)

I think gun laws ought to be based on population density and not on weapon mechanisms. I don’t own a gun but I’m told that you can change easily change weapons from one type to another. I would ban weapons in cities but see no reason why sportsman on farms in western Maryland can’t exchange weapons. With better checking systems we really don’t need this 25 waiting period either for gun enthusiasts. I don’t like concealed weapons for anyone, even detectives. If you want to carry a gun I’d rather that it be in the open for all the world to see. 

Gail Bates (R)

We have a law “the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution” which protects the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms. Criminal action must be punished and those committing a crime using a weapon should forfeit that right.

Warren Miller (R)

We have too many on the books and most existing laws are not enforced. The answer to weapons abuse is to enforce the existing state laws and responsible ownership of firearms

I believe in the 2nd amendment and that it envisioned a population that could protect itself from oppression.  Does that mean I believe in militias in every neighborhood.  No, but we should be able to protect ourselves.

I don’t think just anyone should own a gun either.  Mentally ill people, convicted criminals, etc. 

I agree with Warren that we don’t enforce the laws we have.

Liberalized laws in Florida and Texas have had a positive impact on reducing crime.

Question: Do you favor relaxing handgun laws in the state of Maryland? Please explain your answer.

David Osmundson (D)

Once again, gun laws ought to be by population density and not one size fits all. What is common sense in Baltimore may be ludicrous on a farm in Lisbon, Maryland.

Gail Bates (R)

I believe law abiding citizens should have the right to carry a concealed weapon in order to protect themselves. In States with that right, crime is down.

Warren Miller (R)

For law abiding gun owners some state restrictions on firearm ownership need to be relaxed. I support concealed carry for law abiding gun owners.

I support concealed carry for law abiding citizens too.  Model after Texas and Florida.  I don’t think you can do what David suggests unless you give municipal government wide latitude.

Question: Do you favor some degree of public funding of statewide and legislative campaigns in Maryland? If so, please explain.

David Osmundson (D)

Yes! I would tax the big money campaigns and provide an equal percentage to all candidates who have not met certain thresholds. This would help candidates running on the local level and we’d get better home grown politicians. Eventually, our whole nation would benefit. I would increase the cost to enter a race. Here is how it would work. The person interested in running would have to pay, say a thousand dollars to enter a race. Money generally pours in for the prominent candidates. The state would tax them for 10% of every dollar over a million dollars and that 10% would be given to the rest of his opponents. In this method, more issues would be brought to the table and we might get a better class of politicians. Third Party candidates generally bring issues to the table that need to be talked about but the major parties want to hide.
 

Gail Bates (R)

NO. Candidates should raise funds. This tests whether their message resonates with the public.

Warren Miller (R) 

I do not favor public funding, the average citizen?s tax burden is high enough and Massachusetts is a perfect example of why Public funding does not work. The proposal in the Maryland General Assembly last year would have created a lopsided landscape where only Challengers would be well funded in most races.

I think for the most part incumbents are the most well funded.  I wouldn’t call Massachusetts lopsided.  I just think they turned the tables.

I think we need to level the playing field.  David’s idea is unique.  A tax on fundraising.  I don’t think it would be legal.  I don’t want to tax people for political campaigns.  Problem is that without money then how can your message resonate with the voters.

I don’t think you can treat this in a one size fits all manner.  Federal, State and Local all have different aspects to them.  A candidate for County Council will not raise $1M.  No one in 9A is going to raise $1M either.

I don’t have an answer.  But something needs to be done.  I typically support the incumbent (not always).  However, an imcumbent can over stay their welcome and trying to get them out can be practically impossible.  Here we have a “part time” General Assembly.  They aren’t paid like they are part timers – maybe someone can figure out how to raise a family on that part time income.   Never mind people have already figured it out.

How can we recruit more and more people to enter this end of the process without making them take a 3 month unpaid leave of absence.  How many of the “citizens” can afford to take a 2 month leave of absence?

Question: As a way to make campaign contributions more transparent, would you favor requiring that contributions by associated entities or subsidiaries of controlling entities be listed as coming from the controlling entities?

David Osmundson (D)

From both!

Gail Bates (R)

There is no effective way to police such a requirement per a letter from the State Prosecutor.

Warren Miller (R)

We have plenty of transparency with existing disclosure laws.

The more transparency we can build in the better we would all be.  However, it would have to work.  Gail, can you elaborate on the State Prosecutor’s findings?

Question: Currently, there is a scholarship program unique to Maryland under which state senators (especially) and delegates get to provide scholarships in their name to prospective students. Would you support ending this program and turning the associated funds over to a state unit for dispersal according to non-political or non-partisan standards? If not, how would you handle the public funds you would be allowed to dispense under this program?
 

David Osmundson (D)

I really don?t care how it is done. I think different politicians across party lines have taken different a different tact on this issue. I see no problem either way.

Gail Bates (R)

I would support elimination. I currently dispense funds based on merit and need through use of an independent review committee, believing this best accommodates the needs of my constituents.

Warren Miller (R)

As long as the program exists I will give scholarships to deserving kids in my legislative district. However I will support any attempt to stop the program.

I think it should be abolished.

Question: Would you pass legislation to establish a procedure to hold special elections in conjunction with the Presidential year elections to fill legislative vacancies that occur in the two years between legislative elections and the elections in the Presidential year?

David Osmundson (D)

Yes! Democracy is good for Maryland.

Gail Bates (R)

No.

Warren Miller (R)

The current process of allowing Central Committees elected by voters to make the recommendation works well and does not need to be changed.

I would support this and wish Gail would elaborate.   Doing this during a Presidential cycle means that the cost to do an election for a vacancy is minimized greatly by the Congressional and Presidential races going on at the time.

This is the greatest authority that a Central Committee has.  They are elected officials too and have the right to fill the vacancy.  I don’t see any problem with testing their nominee at the next general election.  Let them serve up to 2 years or as little as 30 days and let the voters decide.

Question: Do favor some additional regulation of publicly-necessary utilities (such as the ones that provide electricity) so as to prevent de facto monopoly situations that can lead to unaffordable high rates for some users? Why or why not? Would you support some form of publicly-owned and operated utilities?

David Osmundson (D) 

Yes! All monopolies should be regulated, especially electricity where it is fraudulent to say there will ever be any degree of viable competition. This is a basic rule of economics that governments regulate necessities and de-regulate non-necessities. It is the economic law of elasticity.

Gail Bates (R)

No.  I believe competition is the best way to set rates and keep them manageable.

Warren Miller (R)

No, if a monopoly exists it is regulated by the State of Maryland. I support capitalism as a means to providing the best costs to consumers. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is a great example of a publicly run utility that is poorly managed, costly and always in the news for the wrong reasons. We don?t need more of this.

Have the caps been lifted?  Then I think we will see some competitors finally enter the market place now that they can make some money for the effort.  No thanks to Mike Miller.  BGE and Constellation will always be regulated not only by the PSC but by politicians during elections years.  What I mean is they will endure a high level of scrutiny for years to come.  I think we will be in good shape.  We should heed the wakeup call.  We need to find our own means of being energy independent.  Those are aspects of Merdon’s green plan that I liked.

Tap our landfill methane and use technology to convert it to electricity.  Bio-diesel and bio-heat.  Low sulfer heating oil, etc etc.  When I heard Merdon’s Green Plan I went out and started looking for alternative fuels for my home furnace.  Their are great alternatives.  Now I wish I could find a more economical way to run my air conditioning.

Question: Do you support slots in Maryland? Why or why not? If you support slots in Maryland where would you locate them?

David Osmundson (D)

Yes to a degree. I think that slots at racetracks where people have already come to gamble is fine. I oppose slots in neighborhoods where it encourages people who can?t afford to gamble, to gamble. Horse racing is a Maryland tradition and we ought to keep it healthy. However, I am very concerned about who gets the profits from this gambling and I wouldn?t want it earmarked for special use as this is very inefficient.

Gail Bates (R)

No.

Warren Miller (R)

I support slots for several reasons, first they would re-invigorate Maryland’s horse racing industry and keep it viable, second it would provide a new source of revenue, its is truly disingenuous for the Liberals to complain about inadequate school construction funding when the Governor offered to use this revenue stream for just that need. I would like to see slots placed at Horse Race tracks, we don?t need separate structures built just for slots.

I am with both Warren and David on this one.

Question: Do you support an end to the surcharge of 1.00 per square foot on new construction that has been created by the Howard County State Delegation as an alternative to an increase to the County Transfer Tax to fund school construction? Why or why not?

David Osmundson (D)

Apparently, this is a gimmick used to get the money needed to fund school construction. This is a TAX and it taxes those who can obviously afford the surcharge. These gimmicks wouldn?t have to be used if Republicans weren?t so dishonest about wanting to lower taxes. They oppose school and library construction money and then stand front and center at the dedication of them. It is hypocritical and wrong!

Gail Bates (R)

YES. I believe it is unnecessary if we control our construction costs. We are only increasing by 600 students per year, yet the School System plans to spend in excess of $100 million per year in construction.

Warren Miller (R)

The surcharge remains to pay for the bond debt. I do not support an increase for additional spending. I have seen no evidence of the need for the 100 million dollar plus annual spending for new school construction pushed by the Robey administration. I am very concerned about how new school construction has limited the county’s maintenance program for existing structures. As the fourth wealthiest county per capita in the US the 65 to 70% of our tax dollars that the school board gets annually should be more than enough to maintain our school infrastructure.

Question in my mind.  Did this have a sunset provision?  Did the county issue bonds based on this revenue stream?  If so can we pay them back without without this charge in place and without risking our bond rating?

I think they have enough revenue in the transfer tax fund.  It has increased tremendously and is projected to continue to increase.  I wrote about this earlier at this post.

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20 Responses to “House of Delegates District 9A – Forum”

  1. Freemarket said

    Gail Bates does not want to make emergency contraceptives available to minors because “we need to address the root cause of teen pregnancy and encourage abstinence.” What does encouraging abstinence have to do with making emergency contraceptives available to minors? Why can’t you do both? Gail is apparently naïve enough to think that encouraging abstinence will prevent teen pregnancy. OK, fine. However, why would she then want to limit the access to Plan B pills when her abstinence education fails, as it is bound to do?

  2. Freemarket said

    I find it disturbing that Gail Bates and Warren Miller have link to “Defend Maryland Marriage” on their website, which is a homophobic organization. My favorite titbit on the DMM website is the following: “We are committed to not remain silent as the homosexual agenda attempts to overtake the laws and social order of Maryland.” What? The “homosexual agenda”? I guess that sounds better than “people who insist on equal rights”. Are these candidates for real?

  3. hocomd said

    Freemarket. I have a lesbian sister. She doesn’t believe in gay marriage. Never did and never will. What she believes in is equal treatment for her and her partner. She doesn’t care what you call it as long as she and her partner have the same rights. I think too many people (I am not saying you) are under the mistaken impression that all homosexuals believe in gay marriage. The homosexual community is as split on the issue as the hetrosexual community.

    With that said, why is the DMM homophobic other than their position on marriage?

  4. Freemarket said

    David, with all due respect, your sister does speak for all homosexuals. I don’t care if there is only one homosexual couple in the state that wants to be married. They have every right to do so. Don’t gays pay taxes? I am an atheist and I had no trouble getting married. Why do Gail and Warren want to deny other citizens the same right I have to be married? I am serious. I want to hear from Gail and Warren why they feel that way. I love to hear prejudiced people rationalize their ignorance.

    The entire purpose of the DMM is to “defend” the institution of marriage from homosexuals. How is that not homophobic?

  5. Freemarket said

    Btw, I mean “rights” in the moral sense. Not the legal meaning.

  6. Numbersgirl said

    I agree with freemarket. I don’t care what you call it- marriage, civil union, etc.- homosexuals are entitled to the same legal protection that the institution of marriage provides.

    The DMM’s statement regarding the “homosexual agenda” is all the proof needed regarding homophobia. But, if you’d like more…

    “No longer will we be suppressed or intimidated by the enemies of decency and godliness.”

    “He does not love all behaviors.”

    This does not sound like an organization that would provide equal treatment to your sister and her partner, or any other homosexual, either by marriage or anything similar.

  7. hocomd said

    Freemarket, I didn’t mean to imply that my sister speaks for all gays and visa versa. My point was that gays are just as divided on the issue.

    Numbersgirl, I am reading the web site. I don’t see the statements you are referring to. I do see them say “My Uncle was the 77th person in the US to die of AIDS” “We do not hate people” etc.

    They seem to go out of their way to try ensure people don’t mistake them as a hate group.

    What I would like to see DMM explain is what they support in terms of protecing the equal treatment of my sister and her partner. Do you see anything? Status quo? I hope not – that does not work.

    You raised a good question. I hope Gail and Warren respond.

    I will tell you this about Gail and Warren. I know them both. They are both very decent people. I have never witnessed either of them speak poorly of another. I have seen Gail get up and leave the table when someone starts speaking poorly of another person.

    Next time I speak with them I will ask them directly.

  8. Numbersgirl said

    I copied and pasted directly from the DMM website. Front page. The first couple of paragraphs contain all sorts of good information.

    http://www.defendmarylandmarriage.com/

    Pretty sure they would NOT support protecting the equal treatment of homosexuals.

  9. Numbersgirl said

    Some other fine stuff from the DMM website”
    Their message: Compassion for homosexuals living in frustration and despair.

    Objectives: To inform the citizens of Maryland on the status of marriage-related legislation which threatens the sanctity and sacredness of marriage.

    To provide homosexuals with hope by meeting their needs, sharing with them the cleansing power of Biblical truth, and encouraging and demonstrating wholesome love.

    And they claim that they are not homophobes….

  10. Jen said

    I understand, but don’t support, the conservative christian religious belief that the sanctity and sacredness of marriage should be reserved for the union of a man and a woman. Just as I understand, but don’t support, the jewish religous belief that a woman must remain “chained” in a marriage and cannot be divorced unless she receives a “Get” from the man.

    I don’t argue with a specific congregation’s right to limit a religious marriage ceremony to specific people, or the granting of a divorce only via a specific process. But our government is founded on the separation of church and state and on the equal rights of all citizens. What we allow as a civil union or a civil divorce must not be warped by one specific faith tradition- especially at the cost of civil rights.

  11. hocomd said

    well put jen

  12. Freemarket said

    From Association of Maryland Families, this is also linked to the Bates-Miller website:

    “Marriage is a sacred, legal, and social union ordained by God to be a life-long, sexually exclusive relationship between one man and one woman. Focus on the Family holds this institution in the highest esteem, and strongly opposes any legal sanction of marriage counterfeits, such as the legalization of same-sex “marriage” or the granting of marriage-like benefits to same-sex couples, cohabiting couples, or any other non-marital relationship.”

    http://www.mdfamilies.org/issue_marriage.asp

    Copy and paste the link if it doesn’t work. This sounds to me like Gail and Warren support groups that are opposed to civil unions as well. I would like Gail Bates and Warren Miller to clarify what legal options, in their opinion, gays who want marriage-like benefits should have.

  13. Hiram Jenkins said

    Religion is not the only reason people are against homosexual marriage. As a grad student, I’ve learned that dozens of Scandinavian sociologists have documented homosexual marriage’s contribution to the decline of marriage overall. Same sex marriage is legal there and the sociologists are recommending that it be curbed.

    U.S. sociologists/historians have written that after thousands of years of experimentation on family forms, the one man-one woman arrangment has proved the best for societal cohesion — so much better than the other possibilities that it warrants gov’t action to maintain its primacy.

    And then, of course, there are the arguments that homosexuality is not an immutable trait, which has some force when we consider the rise and decline of homosexuality in the Roman empire and the Greek democracies.

    Moreover, some people of faith simply believe what’s written in their holy books. It’s not homophobia, but unabashed loyalty to their understanding of truth that motivates them.

    Let’s not be so quick to judge all enemies of same sex marriage as homophobic.

  14. Numbersgirl said

    Same sex marriage is not legal here, and look at our divorce rate. Please explain how homosexual marriage contributes to the decline of marriage. Please.

    If the one man-one woman arrangement actually proves best for societal cohesion, then it would naturally maintain its primacy. You don’t need government action to protect a system that naturally sustains itself.

  15. Jen said

    Hiram,
    Quote your sources, please. I’d like to read which scientists in Scandinavia believe this, and what their studies entail- the same with the US historians. Please note that some of my best friends are sociologists- but the liklihood of getting any two of them to agree on anything is pretty silly. And if we followed what a specific sociologist believed we still wouldn’t allow marriage between races, we wouldn’t allow women to vote and we wouldn’t allow African Americans to own property.

  16. Hiram Jenkins said

    I’m new here so I don’t know the local culture. It appears that I’ve somehow inadvertently offended you, Numbersgirl. I’m sorry.

    I’m not saying that the sociologists are right or wrong, only that they have written reports on the negative sociological consequences of same-sex marriage. My comments were meant to be reponsive to the notion that only the religious or prejudiced oppose same-sex marriage. This truth is much more complicated than that.

    Now let me respond to your question about how, according to the reports, same-sex marriage contributes to marital decline. The basic idea is that people choose marriage over mere cohabitation for various reasons, chief among them, the legitimacy it provides the relationship. To be married is to be honored, it is to be respected as responsible and, in some ways, marriage is perceived as more valid than adult cohabitation (living together). Institutions like the Church and government policies (like preferring married couples in adoption) reinforce these social/cultural ideals.

    The legalization and, more importantly, the cultural legitimization of same-sex marriage, however, weakened the Church and effected change in government policies. The conservative cultural checks that motivated adults to marry before (or soon after) bearing children waned. The out-of-wedlock birth rate doubled. Culturally, the tie between marriage and parenthood was severed. Adoption agencies ceased their marriage preferences. All family forms came to be seen as equally valid. Government benefits for the married were made available to all cohabitors or domestic partners, gay or not. In a sense, marriage became pointless. In absence of influential conservative voices on the matter, some Scandinavians came to believe that marriage, itself, was outdated.

    On the other point, I’m not sure why you think the government wouldn’t have to step in to implement, maintain, or protect something that “proves best.” There are plenty of institutions and practices, which we’d probably agree are “good for us,” that require(d) government intervention. Consider racial desegregation or clean water and air, for example.

  17. Hiram Jenkins said

    Hi Jen,

    I agree with you on sociology. There are always contentions, especially on an issue as controversial as this one. However, we should judge each report on its own merit not on the merits of some sociologists who said something ridiculous so many years ago.

    Hiram

    Sources:

    I couldn’t find many of the sources online but I found a few things. Here are three public letters written by various Dutch scientists two years ago. Some of these scientists wrote the reports we read in school, which were more up to date. http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/netherlandsmarriage.cfm

    Here’s a report called (http://www.lcc.gc.ca/research_project/cpra-en.asp) Beyond Conjugality that talks about the need for a social push beyond marriage in Canada. It was released by Canada’s Law Commission, which is kind of like their Bar Association. It is indicative of the kind of talk that has become common in nations that have legalized same-sex marriage.

    I couldn’t locate online the report from Netherlands which shows that their rate of marriage decline immediately doubled in the year, 1998, that same-sex marriages became legal but I did find an article by Stanley Kurtz that talks about it. (http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz200406030910.asp) Interestingly, he also talks about how same-sex marriage is a contributor outside of all the other reasons for marriage decline. Kurtz, by the way, is not a Christian. He is one of Stanford University’s premiere sociologist, an advisor to the U.S. Senate, and one of the most peer-reviewed, published writers at the Hoover Institute. I’m sure some of you have heard of him.

    Here’s another report from the Netherlands (http://www.ejcl.org/64/art64-5.html) which shows that same-sex marriage led to heteros being much less interested in marriage. Scroll down to the first chart you see and read the paragraph just after the chart.

  18. Jen said

    So perhaps the conclusion isn’t that marriage is ‘pointless’ – just that people used to “choose” marriage because it afforded them a certain level of legitimacy or rights that they could not access in any other way. Not exactly the right reason to get married, I’m thinking. I wonder what the longetivity is of those who marry now, as opposed to those who married years ago? Is there a correlation between the decrease in the number of marriages and the number of years that couples co-habitate outside of “marriage”?

    Also, I’d like to point out there is a major difference in semantics between the decrease in the number of legitimized marriages and the “decline of marriage”. One suggests a data point and the other suggests an associated outcome of that datapoint.

    Do the Scandinavians who belive that what we define as marriage is ‘outdated’- believe this is a good thing or a bad thing? Or are you interpreting the response as negative?

    What is the source for the study?

  19. Hiram Jenkins said

    I wasn’t saying that most people choose marriage for the rights it affords them. The sociologists suggest that people choose marriage because it’s socially expected of them, once they’ve reached a certain level in their relationships. Same-sex marriage changed that expectation … not single-handedly, of course, it was simply the largest contributor and reinforcer. Same-sex marriage came with a host of cultural ideals including the notion that marriage is not the business of government and not the business of the Church. It is a wholly personal choice. It was not really anyone’s business.

    It ceased to exist as a social goal, a standard to which all loving relationships should be held. All family forms became equally valid. Subsequently marriage rates declined. It’s not nearly as complicated as you seem to be making it.

    I’m speaking from memory here but I think the longevity of marriages dropped too. There definitely is a correlation between the decline of marriage and the increase of adult co-habitation. The scientists who refer to marriage as outdated definitely think the declining marriage rate is a good thing. That was the thrust of the source I gave you, Beyond Conjugality. Personally, however, I think they’re wrong. Marriage is good.

    I’m not sure what you mean regarding that semantical point but when I say “decline of marriage” I’m referring to the declining rate of marriage. People aren’t getting married as much as they used to; that’s all I mean. I’m talking specifically about a data point.

    And if you explain which study you’re looking for, I’ll try to help you find it.

  20. […] Dave OZ Osmundson over Warren Miller.  I blogged on the candidate forum for 9A.  You can read it for yourself.  I am not voting for Dave over Warren despite The Sun :=)  Just read the candidate forum. […]

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