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Posted on May 02, 2000:
By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson.
Iím sure youíve all seen what it looks like everyday on Wall Street Ė a madhouse of screaming, desperate brokers wanting to make a deal seemingly ready to hyperventilate any minute.
Thatís kind of what the last days of the Maryland General Assembly Session are like. But since we are expected to conduct ourselves in a stately manner in the Senate and most usually do, we kind of run around like the Wall Street brokers making last minute deals -- without the yelling and screaming. Ours is more like a quiet desperation instead of the Wall Street folks who wear their financial hearts on their sleeves.
Some of my pet bills went down to the final days, even minutes of the final days of the session before passage so I had my nervous moments. But when it was over, from my perspective, Southern Maryland did extremely well in this yearís General Session. I was proud to sponsor or co-sponsor much of the legislation that will make lives better for our constituents. I hear a lot of complaints that Baltimore, Prince Georgeís and Montgomery counties get just about everything they want and we here in Southern Maryland get the scraps.
Thatís not the truth anymore because the Southern Maryland delegation is blessed to have some outstanding leadership that fights hard for what we need down here.
If you ask me what I think my most successful piece of legislation was this year, Iíd say it was Senate Bill 855, which ensured that we will be able to provide prescription drug coverage to our rural seniors who were denied Medicare plus Choice benefits this year. This life-saving bill passed with 20 minutes to go in the 90-day general session. Senate bill 855 covers a two-year span with the hope that the federal government will pass a prescription drug coverage inclusion into Medicare plan this year or next.In an election year, this is a hot-button issue. How can you deny a senior citizen prescription drug coverage then ask voters to send you back to Washington?
I am pleased that the General Assembly saw a need in Maryland for our rural seniors and did something about it. We should be proud to live in a state that, despite a large fiscal note, we are able to provide for our seniors where the federal government doesnít seem to want to right now.
Despite all the competition for the billion dollar surplus, Calvert and St. Maryís came out extremely well. Of the five bond bill requests I put in, four were passed by the General Assembly. Iím especially pleased that all will serve as educational facilities for our youths, adults, mentally and physically disabled and elderly.
My request for state funding for what appears to be the first possible no-kill animal sanctuary on the East Coast passed with little contention. Both the Senate and the House seemed pleased that this sanctuary will serve as a safe haven for disenfranchised animals of all types such as dogs, cats, llamas, birds, even buffalos and more. It will also serve as an interactive, education preserve for all ages. Finally, it will also be a pleasant stop for a stressed soul who can wander the land and find some much needed peace. The state grant is only a first -- albeit good start. If you want to contribute to this fine cause, call Lorraine Greenleaf at (301) 373-5659 or (301) 373-3420.
Another successful project I was very enthused to sponsor was a bond bill to support the Calvert Boys and Girls Club. It authorizes $50,000 to be used as a grant to the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calvert County Inc., for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, reconstruction and capital equipping of a site in Calvert County to house a Boys and Girls Club.
The Southern Maryland delegation was also able to secure funding for the state-of-the art Lexington Park Head Start and Family Center which will replace the dilapidated one we currently have to work with near the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. This bond bill authorizes a state debt of $250,000 to be used as a grant to the St. Maryís Board of County Commissioners for the planning, design, construction and capital equipping of this center.
The Head Start Center and the Boys and Girls Club will give our children a safe and educational environment before and after school and thatís nothing but a win-win for St. Maryís and Calvert County.
I was also pleased to co-sponsor with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert, Prince Georgeís, Anne Arundel) a terrific project called the Battle Creek Nature Education Society Environmental Education Center. This $100,000 bond bill will be used as a grant to the Board of Directors of the Battle Creek Nature Education Society for the planning, design, construction and capital equipping of an environmental education center at Flag Ponds Nature Park in southern Calvert County.
One other bill I was very happy to see passed overwhelmingly was SJ 8 which will create a Hughesville-Lexington Park Railway Corridor Commission. The governor will create a task force to initiate implementation of the recommendations of the 1998 Hughesville to Lexington Park Right-of-Way Preservation Study. That study said we could, at a reasonable cost, preserve the old railway line that once stretched as far north as Prince Georgeís County to Lexington Park. By preserving that corridor, we can ensure that in the future, a light rail line can be built from Prince Georgeís County to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, relieving what will be unbearable congestion by the time the light rail line is built. You will hear more about SJ 8 in my next column.
So, itís over for another year. Some wags say we go up there every year just to make more useless laws. I wouldnít be in this business if I believed that. Sometimes, we do right by the people. This year, I believe I did just that for my constituents in Calvert and St. Maryís counties.
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