Editorial The Aegis
ter the 2015 Maryland General Assembly session drew to a close, the Harford County Delegation’s chairman remarked: “Our new delegates did a fantastic job and really stepped up to the plate in getting legislation through. We worked really well as a team.”
It was the first time in a dozen years – maybe more – such a comment could be made without dishonesty or sarcasm.
Under Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich and Democratic governor Martin O’Malley, in good economic times and bad, Harford County’s representatives in Annapolis had been consistent in one regard: their inability to “bring home the bacon for Harford County.”
Years back, such wasn’t the case. In another era, when another cast of characters was representing Harford County at the state level, then-delegate Bill Cox was often heard to say that it was his goal to “bring home the bacon” for the county.
Like his politics or not, it is difficult to argue with that aspect of the Cox philosophy. Taxpayers from every county send money to Annapolis and even fiscally conservative legislators have a responsibility to ensure that some of the state money ends up back in the counties they represent.
A few faces have changed since last session, when there was an election, but this year as last, Impallaria is the delegation chairman, and many of the other faces are the same. It is clear, however, that there’s been something of a change in attitude, if not in the guard.
This year, the local Republican-dominated delegation showed a level of restraint heretofore unseen when it comes to pushing national hot button issues that have little meaning in Harford County. Even though Sen. Wayne Norman’s bill designed to make it easier to get permission to carry handguns languished in committee, he was relatively quiet about it, and when the session ended he characterized the term as a success for Harford County.
While the legislature failed to make English Maryland’s official language, or strengthen the state’s laws with regard to illegal immigration – issues that had dominated the agendas of local legislators in recent years – a few less contentious issues were addressed.
It is officially a requirement that to operate a business in the county that sells alcoholic beverages, at least one licensee must be a resident of the county.
As Impallaria put it: “The county’s a big county, and it has a lot of qualified people, and those jobs should go to people in Harford County.”
Of more general interest, bills allocating $100,000 for a new Susquehanna Hose Co. rescue boat, $500,000 for maintenance improvements at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen and $100,000 for work at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton all made it through the process. Sponsored by Mary Ann Lisanti, the lone Democrat in the local delegation, it is unlikely any of them would have made it very far had it not been for at least a little bit of support from her GOP colleagues.
As Lisanti put it: “I had the opportunity to work in a bipartisan matter with delegates and senators from all over the state, and it’s been a rewarding experience.”
This year hardly marks a windfall when it comes to the local legislative group bringing home the bacon. Indeed, compared to the late 1980s, this year’s level of state funding for Harford projects could be regarded as rather paltry.
It does, however, appear to mark a change in collective attitude that appears to understand the reality that, while it is important to stand firm on certain core issues, there are things – like paying for rescue boats and the upkeep of public facilities – that people of all political stripes can agree on.