Much ado about HB1513

Controversy is still swirling about a proposed bill that is all but universally despised by Republican Central Committee members and the state party itself, with one local member alluding to a new twist in the saga.

Scott Delong, who is a member of the Harford County Republican Central Committee, sent out a lengthy e-mail yesterday to fellow Central Committee members detailing his opposition to the move. While this bill has remained bottled up in the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee of the House of Delegates due to its late introduction, a committee where no further meetings are planned for this session, Delong alleges that sponsor Delegates Rick Impallaria. Pat McDonough, and Kathy Szeliga are trying to petition the bill to the floor.

Assuming this is indeed the case, it’s worth pointing out that petitioning is a rarely-used alternative to the standard committee process, but while the GOP is seemingly afraid to use this procedure to move bills along which have merit, such as repeals to onerous legislation like the Septic Bill or so-called Firearm Safety Act, these members are apparently embracing this manuever to promote a bill harmful to the state GOP. It wouldn’t surprise me to see mostly Democrats sign this petition just as a way of dividing their opposition prior to an important election.

Delong also comments on the responses from Delegates Szeliga and Impallaria in links from his e-mail. It seems that the good Delegates have some concerns about the way things have operated in the past, which is fine. So why wait until after the filing deadline to put this bill in the hopper if this has been a concern? Amazingly, the 12 positions on the Harford County Republican Central Committee have attracted a total of 32 aspirants – only the far larger counties of Baltimore and Montgomery have drawn more for their positions, but many more will be elected from those jurisdictions.

Again, the biggest problem I have with this proposal is that it’s none of the Delegates’ business who sits on the Central Committee, aside from the vote they cast in that election. Moreover, certain people who are co-sponsors of this bill don’t even have that right because they don’t live in Harford County – ¬†neither McDonough nor Szeliga live there, as both come from Baltimore County. To use Wicomico County as an example, there could be four Republicans in our county delegation but potentially only one actually living in the county. And because all of Harford’s (and Wicomico’s, for that matter) members are elected at-large, would it be fair for someone for whom only some of those who live in the county cast a vote to have the power to represent an entire county in this manner?

Let’s hope the bill remains buried in committee. I also call on the Delegates to abandon any effort to petition this to the floor, as it is simply a divisive and unacceptable abuse of power to follow through with this bill.