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If we can put Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) political ambitions aside for the moment, I would like to offer you some suggestions for dealing with legislation pending in this session.

Death penalty: It’s expensive and, in my opinion, not worth the price. You are all aware of what the appeals cost is to the state, that juries don’t like to mandate the death penalty and that this punishment is seldom exercised here in Maryland. Considering the contempt we have earned in the world for unnecessary wars, water-boarding and other forms of torture that we’ve engaged in, I think it would be refreshing for another of the United States to denounce the death penalty and join the rest of the world’s civilized nations. It can’t hurt.

Prison murders: That’s what maximum security prisons are for.

Dogs: After the appallingly ignorant opinion of Maryland’s highest court, it’s time to remedy the situation with the very bill Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery) has introduced in the Senate. Considering there are more people with pit bulls than prisoners on death row, it seems reasonable to address the issue that effects the larger number of Marylanders and let O’Malley wait his turn being “death-defying.” It’s an emergency; too many people and innocent animals are affected. Please get your legislative priorities straight.

Gas tax: This is a no brainer. Borrow Al Gore’s unused lock box, lock up the gas tax and use it only for transportation projects. Pass lock box legislation and raise the gas tax.

Wind power: Another no brainer. We need electricity, and the way to get it is with wind power and atomic power. We are behind the times using coal, and even natural gas, which only pollutes half as much as coal. With our heads firmly in the sand, or gas shale, we are ignoring planetary weather change at our own peril and that of unborn generations. Get real on encouraging renewable energy sources and atomic power.

The Chesapeake Bay: The bay has too much crap dumped into it. Enforce existing laws and put money where it belongs, in sewers and waste treatment plants. No, they are not glamorous, but are vitally important. Slow near-shore development or stop it. Infringe on individual property rights. Exercise imminent domain. The few cannot screw the many just because they hold a title. Pollution is not a private matter; it’s a civic one.

Guns: Existing Maryland law is awfully tight already. Imposing more fees and fines and ignoring the nexus between guns and mental health is the issue. Emotionally healthy people do not commit murder or mass murder; in fact, the rate of “mass murders” has remained constant for 25 years. But we do have sick people out there, and because of privacy issues, they cannot be identified or treated. We have already banned large-capacity magazines in Maryland; the maximum number of rounds is 20. But until there is federal legislation to outlaw truly high-capacity magazines, gangbangers and others can bring them in from somewhere else. The Founding Fathers wanted a republic, not a democracy, because in a democracy, demagogues usurp rational, considered compromise with emotional noise.

Mental health: Within the past decade, 30 states have reduced or seriously reduced their mental health budgets. Let’s get serious. This is irresponsible. Getting help for the mentally ill can save us millions and millions over the long term, help clean up junkies and addicts, make sobriety an achievable goal, reduce the rate of suicides and maybe prevent the next mass murderer from acting out.



Bernie Halloran, Owings