- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2011

ANNAPOLIS | The cross-country celebration of Ronald Reagan and his 100th birthday anniversary this year didn’t exactly get a tour date in the Maryland State House.

The Democrat-controlled House and Senate both rejected proposals for a annual Reagan Day on Wednesday, which also happened to be the 30th anniversary of the 1981 assassination attempt on the former president and GOP icon.

Though a House committee rejected the proposal on a straight party-line vote, Democrats said their decision was not about partisan politics.

“We decided not to do any commemorative days,” said Delegate John P. Donoghue, Washington Democrat. “It wasn’t just about Reagan.”

The Assembly rejected every commemorative holiday proposed this session, including a GOP-backed Young Heroes Day and a Democratic-backed Korean American Day.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway, chairwoman of the chamber’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, which rejected Reagan Day, said the decisions were about keeping the state calendar from becoming a succession of official holidays.

“If we keep naming stuff on the blind, we’re [celebrating] two and three things on one day,” said Ms. Conway, Baltimore Democrat.

The state has just 11 official commemorative days or months. Only one celebrates a single person — the April 13 birthday of Marylander John Hanson, named first president of the Continental Congress in 1781.

Reagan would have been 100 on Feb. 6. The attempt on his life occurred March 30, 1981, when John Hinckley Jr. shot him outside a Hilton hotel in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood.

Celebrations across the country so far this year have included a Reagan tribute video before the Super Bowl, a rare-memorabilia exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, and events near Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Ill., and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

The only state that celebrates Reagan’s birthday as a holiday is California, where he lived most of his life and was governor from 1967 to 1975. The state approved its Ronald Reagan Day last year.

“I think Ronald Reagan was one of our greatest presidents,” said Delegate Pat McDonough, Baltimore County Republican. “His accomplishments render a special recognition that he deserves.”

Right now, Mr. McDonough’s best hope appears to be with state archivists, who were asked by legislators to study the rejected holiday proposals and attempt to find other possible dates.

Maryland was one of just six states and the District of Columbia that Mr. Reagan lost in his 1980 victory over then-President Jimmy Carter.

The state also gave him one of his slimmest victory margins in his 1984 win over Democratic challenger Walter Mondale — a historic landslide in which Reagan carried 49 states, losing only the District and Mr. Mondale’s home state of Minnesota.

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