- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 17, 2002

ANNAPOLIS Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening said he will ask for comprehensive measures to improve public safety in the aftermath of September's terrorist attacks.
In addition to creating a state security council to coordinate response, he called for changing the criminal code "to find the right balance between safety and civil rights."
He has not released details of those changes or the rest of the legislative package he will submit later this month.
Mr. Glendening said National Guard members should have the same protections for their regular jobs and benefits and against financial hardship when the governor mobilizes them as when the president does. Legislative committees already have been briefed on the differences.
But Mr. Glendening said even in the face of decreased state revenue, lawmakers should not curtail commitments to education, the environment and justice.
"Tough budget times will come and go, but once our land and resources are gone, they are gone forever," said Mr. Glendening, in the last State of the State speech of his second and final term.
For that reason, he said, he will push in Maryland to strengthen the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Program and extend its environmental protections and measures to coastal bays on the Atlantic side of the Eastern Shore.
He also will call for increasing fees, penalties and fines for those who violate air- and water-pollution laws.
Penalties in Maryland are lower than in most surrounding states and under federal law.
Sen. Brian Frosh, Montgomery County Democrat, has offered bills to put Maryland penalties on par, and they have cleared the Senate, but died in the House Environmental Matters Committee.
Permit fees now do not even cover the cost of administration, Mr. Frosh said.
"We can't have taxpayers paying for various companies' permits, and we have to have penalties that reflect the damage being done," said Theresa M. Pierno, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Meanwhile, Mr. Glendening said teachers should have the right to bargain with school boards "over key issues, such as teacher mentoring and professional development" and that school support staff on the Eastern Shore should not be excluded, as they are now, from collective-bargaining rights.
But legislators said while the governor's speech contained much musing about his legacy and even how to foster world peace, it failed to discuss what many of them were most concerned about keeping the tax cut and increasing elementary and secondary education funding to help the neediest students.
"He didn't mention that tax cut, did he?" said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George's Democrat, who is among a large bipartisan group that opposes delaying the final 2 percent of a five-year, 10 percent income-tax cut approved in 1997 and implemented in 1998.
"We can find a way to do it and we will do it," Mr. Miller said. "People have come to expect it and it's not that much."
About 54 percent of Maryland voters oppose canceling the tax cut, with 32 percent favoring it and 14 percent having no opinion, according to a poll conducted last week by Gonzales/Arscott Research.
Every demographic group opposed not cutting the tax, even Democrats, 48 percent to 40 percent.
The tax cut would cost $175 million, but Mr. Glendening did not include it in a $22.2 billion budget that increased state spending $600 million, or 2.7 percent, in a year where revenues were expected to fall $521 million short.
"The biggest thing that concerns me is the structural deficit," said House Minority Whip James F. Ports Jr., Baltimore County Republican, "and according to his own blue-ribbon commission, he's underfunding education by $130 million."
Delegate David Brinkley, Frederick County Republican, said he was disappointed that the governor said "not a word" about transportation.
"It's very important to us in Western Maryland and the Washington suburbs," Mr. Brinkley said. "Had he not been dillydallying with labor issues, we could have had the Woodrow Wilson Bridge up and running and there are bridges elsewhere that need attention."
Mr. Miller said Mr. Glendening has done more for the environment than any other governor.

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