- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

ANNAPOLIS A resolution that would create an annual Ronald Reagan Day to pay tribute to the former president was introduced with bipartisan support yesterday in the Maryland Senate.
The legislation would set aside Mr. Reagan's birthday, Feb. 6, as Ronald Reagan Day. He was born on Feb. 6, 1911.
Thirteen of 14 Senate Republicans and four Democrats signed on as sponsors to the resolution introduced by Sen. Alexander X. Mooney, a District 3 Republican.
The resolution recognizes the 40th president's accomplishments, such as rekindling a spirit of patriotism among Americans and lessening their tax burden. it also credits him with reinvigorating the nation's military and boosting America toward victory in Cold War with the Soviet Union, which collapsed during the term of his successor George H.W. Bush.
Ronald Reagan Day would be a day of homage, but not a state holiday.
"It would commemorate a man the senator and many Marylanders consider our greatest president," said David Talley, Mr. Mooney's legislative director.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. lent tentative support to the resolution yesterday. "Sounds good so far," Mr. Ehrlich said. Mr. Reagan was "a great president."
Some Democratic lawmakers were squeamish about supporting a Ronald Reagan Day.
"You would have to be really special for that, and I don't view [Mr. Reagan] in that regard," said Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, Baltimore County Democrat. "I don't mean any disrespect, but you could do that for every ex-president."
Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, a Baltimore County Democrat and chairman of the committee receiving the resolution, said its language might be too political for Democrats.
"That's pure politics, and if it comes down as something that is politics it might not get a positive reaction," Mrs. Hollinger said.
"If they want to tie it to Alzheimer's disease and use [Mr. Reagan] as a poster boy, that might be better idea and more productive," said Mrs. Hollinger, who recently lost her mother to the disease.
Mr. Reagan, 91, served as president from 1981 to 1989. He announced on Nov. 5, 1994, that he was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. A few years later he ended all public appearances.
Sen. Janet Greenip of Anne Arundel County, the only Senate Republican not to sponsor the resolution, said her failure to sign it was an oversight and that she would vote for it.
She said Democrats might line up against Ronald Reagan Day to vent their frustration with losing their monopoly on the state's political power to Mr. Ehrlich, the first Republican governor in more than three decades.
"It would be very small to do it, but who am I to tell the Democrats what to do," Mrs. Greenip said. "I can't imagine getting upset about that, but then you never know."
If the Senate passes the resolution, it would go to the House, which has been the source of most partisan conflicts this legislative session.
"How about a Franklin Roosevelt Day?" responded House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Annapolis Democrat, when asked about the resolution.
Montgomery County Delegate Sheila Ellis Hixson, a Democratic leader, had reservations about giving Mr. Reagan his own day in Maryland.
"It would be a first, the first time we ever did it for a president," Mrs. Hixson said. "Unfortunately, we would then have to have days for all the presidents. It's a precedent."
Some House Republicans also had reservations about the resolution, but they expected to support it.
Delegate George C. Edwards, a Garrett-Allegany County Republican, said the state may already have too many commemorative days.
"We are getting into a position where we have enough [special] days," he said. "It is getting so we have a day for everyone." Nevertheless, Mr. Edwards said he may support a Ronald Reagan Day, since it would not mean another day off for state employees.


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