From Del. Mary-Dulany James:
I hope this email finds you all well. There are some exciting developments happening down in Annapolis, and I’d like to share some of them with you now.
New Coalition: Tired of feeling like you don’t have a home on either the right or the left? Or that thoughtful voices can’t be heard over the partisan rancor at the extremes? There are a considerable number of lawmakers who agree, and are dedicated to effectively managing the fiscal matters of the state and growing the economy regardless of partisan politics. Banding together, we have established what we are calling the ‘Blue Dog Coalition’. The Blue Dogs, as we call ourselves, are lawmakers who are fundamentally dedicated to the financial stability of the State of Maryland and to non-governmental economic growth.
We believe that in many instances, the government inadvertently stands in the way of economic progress and that, like its citizens, the government must live within its allotted resources. You can read our mission statement here
We also believe, for example, that red tape should be minimized in order for our citizens and small businesses to interact with the state. We all know that in order to facilitate a flourishing economy, we need to free entrepreneurs from onerous regulations.
Some of our positions are already getting attention. The Governor’s State of the State Address last week made note of a report outlining ways to reduce, reform, or eliminate state regulations. Slashing burdensome red tape was an issue that Blue Dogs in the state pushed for last year, and we are pleased that the state is moving in that direction.
Blue Dog Agenda: Below is a list of issues that the Blue Dogs believe can have a potentially harmful or beneficial impact on private sector economic growth:
Public Private Partnerships (P3)
I am going to briefly share some information about three of these issues in this update; stay tuned for information about the others in the coming weeks.
Septic Systems: The divine beauty of the Chesapeake is a state treasure. The upkeep of the bay is therefore an issue of spectacular importance. The state already has in place many protections for the bay, but with 4-6% of Maryland’s pollution in the Bay coming from septic runoff, one would think that a bill which was introduced last year tackling this issue would be well received, right?
Wrong. The effect of that bill would have prohibited all developments relying on septics in parts of each county regardless of whether they had a harmful effect on either the bay or water quality.. This bill was unacceptable on many levels, doing considerable harm to businesses and the many people they employ. It did not allow for the kind of flexibility that can only come from the local level. Instead, it unnecessarily created another level of bureaucracy at the state level. Additionally, the EPA required counties to develop and implement Water Implementation Plans (WIPs) which would require local governments to reduce nitrogen runoff, including nitrogen from septic systems.
After going back to the drawing board, a new proposal has hit the floor in the form of SB 236, which is better designed to work within existing local planning programs.
While there is some state government oversight, the bill encourages local governments to more accurately assess impacts and costs of septic system development. Some of the main aspects of the bill are:
– Each county will designate portions of their land into 1 of 4 tiers, which are created to help guide the plans for central sewer and septic systems. For tier 1 and 2 lands (generally urban and suburban lands), this bill will have little to no effect. For tier 3 land, major and minor subdivisions will need approval. For tier 4 land, minor subdivisions will need approval, and major subdivisions are prohibited.
– There is also a grandfather clause in the bill, so any plans that have already been approved will not be affected by this legislation. Only the plans approved after the fact will be required to comply with the provisions in the bill.
There are some definite improvements to be made to this proposal before it becomes law. Among the problems is the apparent disconnect between the intent of the bill and the practice- if the goal of the legislation is to combat current nitrogen run-offs into the bay, then why aren’t current septic systems addressed? Also, concerns exist on whether the tier scheme created by this bill is truly the most efficient and fair way to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing the nitrogen load in the Chesapeake Bay. The Blue Dogs are working with local leaders of businesses to improve the legislation.
Transportation Funding: Roaring to life like a supped-up Ferrari, an increase in the gas tax has gained much attention as a possible way to fill our funding gap and bring some much needed money back into transportation infrastructure projects and maintenance. According to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation , a gap exists between the amount of money we need to fund necessary transportation projects and the amount we currently have. An increase in the gas tax is just one of the recommendations of that Commission. The Blue Dogs, however, are not in favor of this proposal, and believe our efforts will be part of the reason a gas tax does not happen this year.
Maryland is a unique state in that, like the single-payer system in the health care field, the state is responsible for financing all transportation costs from a single fund. Because of this, many of my constituents in rural areas feel uneasy about paying for metropolitan mass-transit projects.
Perhaps, the answer to the problem lies in a more creative funding approach, where those who receive the benefits of the transportation trust fund the most are paying their fair share for those services.
I’m currently working on a proposal supported by the Blue Dogs which would study the effectiveness of a regional transit financing authority, and whether it would ultimately benefit Maryland as a whole.
Public-Private Partnerships (P3): I am cosponsoring a bill that is the product of a report that the General Assembly commissioned last year to reduce the costs to the state of major capital projects, while still promoting economic development by having these projects go forward creating jobs and the positive ripple effect into the economy. The report studying Public-Private Partnerships in Maryland can be found here.
P3’s can be tremendously beneficial to the state, potentially creating thousands of new jobs. Also, it’s important to note that P3 does not privatize government en masse- it merely leverages resources that would not exist otherwise. With that said, though, seeking private-sector solutions to public agency problems are a great way to keep the state economically viable in the 21st century.
As always, I am here to serve you, my constituents. If you have any questions on these or any other topics, please let me know. I am blessed to be given the opportunity to represent you in Annapolis. If you have any concerns about what happens at the state capitol, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Very Truly Yours,
Blue Dogs? Now that is really original! If I am tired of the same old politics as usual, I will not be supporting any current career politician of either party. My grandmother used to tell me, “Sonny, it’s just the same dog with different fleas.” ” You can tie a pretty bow on her and give her a new name if you like, but you are still going to be itching and scratching until you toss her out of the house.” One might suggest that my grandmother’s wisdom might somehow apply to the current yet “new” political landscape.
Ryan Burbey says
I am in the awkward position of agreeing with the DD. I believe in people who truly are dedicated to their principles not adrift in the wind of profiteering…
Bel Air Fed says
It’s some comfort to hear a DEM won’t be going along with omalley gas tax insanity. a politicians main objective in life – get re-elected.
PROUD TO BE LIBERAL says
“Blue Dog” Democrat is a contradiction in terms. She is not a democrat.
Larry Smith says
I applaud Delegate James’ political courage and willingness to begin pursuing real solutions. Maryland has been on the wrong path for far too long. I hope delegates and senators of all stripes join her coalition. This is precisely the kind of leadership that Washington needs more of too.
Common Cent$ says
Larry, I (like you) applaud Delegate James, but disagree with you when you state that she’s “willing to BEGIN pursuing real solutions”, when in fact, that’s what she’s been doing for many years.
Larry Smith says
I can respect that distinction. Thanks.
Fact Check says
Larry, you need to remember that she voted for what was the largest tax increase on Maryland families at the time it was proposed, expanding the sales tax because the Democratic leadership pressured her to. I don’t think you should be applauding this time of behavior, but rather condeming someone who has played the “politics as usual” game.
Larry Smith says
I’m a big fan of Abraham Lincoln. He had a practically heroic trait of judging people more on their current actions and less on their past actions and/or transgressions. This kind of coalition took some courage for her to form. I applaud her for that. Maybe we’ll remember 2012 as the year Maryland Dems began to smell the coffee. Fingers crossed.
It seems to me that ANYONE who has been in office for more than a few terms and has not made any meaningful contributions to lower the debt and taxes should be voted out of office. I know it is difficult to bring any financial sanity to Maryland w/the tax and spend Dems in power but at least try. The only solution is to vote the people out whos only idea is to spend more than we have and tax more than we can afford. Listen to the Beatles “Taxman” and you’ll get an idea of the tax situation in Moscow on the bay (sometime known as Maryland).
Which way is the wind blowing?? Last year you eliminated the Hotel tax even though many if not most of your constituents were in favor of it. Voters will remember that it was part of a deal to get a giant tax break for Presbyterian Homes. Voters do not know the particulars of your ( under the table ?) deal but had it not been for a courageous City council your plans might have succeeded. I would suggest that your\ position may have been decided by your guaging of the the political winds and accompaning “donations”. I know that your stand was not popular with many from Aberdeen and I will try to incease the number of your opposition. Which way is the wind blowing???
W.T.F. ? says
CASPERTFG, “Courageous City Council” is an oxymoron when applied to the City of Aberdeen. In fact, they are spineless bastards. Michael Bennett SUPPORTED the Pres. Homes tax incentive, then flip-flopped as soon as the misinformed electorate’s wheel starting squeaking! That’s not courage or leadership. Typical……….
Mary-Dulan James says
Hi Everybody. I just wanted to respond to a couple of comments. First, I am glad the Dagger posts my Updates. They go out to about 20,000 people per week and the Dagger along with the Patch and some other news outlets then reprint them. Someone said I voted for the largest tax increases in Maryland history. I did not. I think the writer is referring to the 2007 Special Session. I voted for none of the taxes during that session. If you would like I can refer you to the bills and the votes which are on line on the General Assembly’s website.
Also, last year I did not eliminate a hotel tax. Harford County does not have a hotel tax and has not had one for over 10 years. The county did have a hotel tax about a decade ago for a few years but it was never used. I did try to re-establish a hotel tax last year, along with setting aside some money for a conference center and a continuing care retirement community for 10 years and 15 years respectively. After that, all the revenues would all go to tourism. I understand that the bill was misunderstood by some and objected to by others.
Anyone who wants to talk about either of these issues in more detail can reply to my legislative email or give me a call at 410-841-3331.
Would you support hotel tax legislation again this session as you have in the past? As you know, Harford County taxpayers are unfairly treated compared to taxpayers in the rest of the state. Your constituents pay this tax now whenever they travel to Ocean City, Deep Creek, or anywhere else. But since we do not have the tax here, the full burden for funding the county’s tourism efforts falls on Harford County taxpayers. So we are getting hit at both ends.
We are the only county in the state without such a charge on visitors, who use our services and infrastructure. Your constituents are tired of subsidizing outsiders. It is unfair.
With all of the increased fees and regulations coming out of Annapolis this session, this is one positive step that you can take to get some pittance of money coming to our county, that will cost your constituents nothing. Please help us.
Mary-Dulany James----MD says
Hello. I tried to let people who get my Updates through the Patch, the Dagger (and other blogs) and newspapers such as the Aegis, know that they should contact me with specific questions by writing mary.dulany.james.@house.state.md.us or calling 410-841-3331. The Updates go out to about 20,000 people and then news organizations and sometime blogs reprint them. But I am never sure when and if they do.
I will add the contact information at the end of each Update.
Anyway, I could not get enough support from a majority of the Delegates and Senators to put in a hotel tax bill this year. I am not being critical of any of the other elected officials. If you would like to talk about this or any other issue, please contact me directly.
Bluedog Aye, so now that Owe-Malley has gotten halfway through his term of taxing the living heck out of us at every turn you now want to run for the hills. When it was election time you made it a point to stop by the democratic strongholds and tote that good ol’ fashioned status quo politics (handouts and excess programs). Now the Hens have come home to roost and you figure jumping behind “Blue Dog” somehow separates you from the rank and file. I would rather you say your worried about the voter implications of all the tax increases and over-regulation, than try and jump under the part-time republican banner. You know whats coming come election time so just take the medicine taxpayers dish out for the illness that is Maryland Politics. Where do you stand on Dream Act? I also wouldn’t be surprised if Owe-Malley himself actually encouraged this coalition to save the “last of the Mohicans” in the Democratic party. He’s on his last term so why not grant a “pardon” shall you say to those who towed the line all these years. Blue Dog…Pleassssseeeeeee