Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

The State Legislature – How could we live without them?

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, February 10, 2008

Well, the bills are in and the schedules are being finalized. This year there are more than 2300 bills, including 1432 House bills and 849 Senate bills that will be considered in the 90 days of the 2008 session.

2300 bills? Why so many? Well one example, House Bill 380 seeks to prohibit using a text message device while driving by making it a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $500. Okay, a good bill and a good sentiment – but is a separate bill for each possible distraction really necessary? Is this really the way to approach the problem? First we had cell phones, now text messaging devices and who knows what else. Would it not make more sense, be easier to comprehend and still have the intended effect to make the law apply to any distraction that causes a driver to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner? Maybe there already is a law against reading a newspaper while driving – but is that any different than reading a text message? Why make a distinction? Both are unsafe activities while driving.

Or how about House Bill 42, The Home Financial Accountability Act 0f 2008?

FOR the purpose of clarifying the availability of certain books and records kept by or on behalf of certain common ownership communities for certain purposes and to certain persons; requiring the governing body of certain common ownership communities, on request of a member, to compile and mail certain information within a certain time; making a stylistic change; altering certain limitations concerning public inspection of certain records; prohibiting certain common ownership communities from imposing certain fees other than a reasonable charge imposed on a person desiring to copy certain books and records; providing that a charge for copying certain records may not exceed a certain amount; and generally relating to access to the books and records of cooperative housing associations, condominiums, and homeowners associations.

Well first of all, if the purpose of this bill is to clarify anything, well I think it fails right here in the introduction. Certain books, certain blah blah, generally relating to zzzzz…, yea, that’s clarifying alright. The best that I can tell, this bill is to give homeowners (and others) in a co-op the right to request financial statements from their housing co-op, receive them in 10 days and they cannot be charged more than the average commercial copying charge in the area.

We have laws that require all sorts of disclosures and reporting requirements. Okay, fine. Well, as a Maryland resident, can I demand equal status from the State? Could I walk into the State house and ask for a copy of all laws and regulations that apply to me and get a copy? Would I have to pay for it? If they charged me standard copying rates, what would it cost? Would I need to bring my own dolly or could I rent one of theirs?

How would Marylanders react that if 10 days after the end of each session, the State delivered a new, complete copy of all of the Maryland statues that we are expected to comply with? Would having a stack of telephone sized books delivered to each household every year cause people to sit up and ask what are we doing to ourselves?

Would that be enough for ordinary citizens to start demanding that certain legislators take certain actions when they compile and distribute certain rules and regulations that they take actions generally relating to stylistic changes that actually make sense to everyone that thinks this sentence is BS?

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