District of Columbia and Maryland residents strongly opposed the D.C. voting rights amendment, in testimony here today, arguing that it would give the city a disproportionate amount of power in Congress and that it violates the intentions of the nation's founding fathers.
Testifying before the Senate committee that will cast the first Maryland land vote on the amendment several D.C. residents said they do not feel underrepresented in Congress, and maintained that the voting rights amendment is actually unpopular with several citizen and political groups in the District and the Washington AREA.
Five of the 10 persons who testified against the amendment today said they were particularly disturbed by the fact that it would give the District two senators. They said they would be more inclined to support voting rights for the District in the House of Representatives only.
"The district is not typical of America -- it is a one-industry town. The interests of nearly everyone who works (there) are tied to a bigger, richer, and more powerful government... Two more votes (in the Senate) on the size of government to a constituency of bureaucrats is the ultimate conflict of interest," said Lois Lindley DeVecchio, a member of the executive board of directors of the League of Republican Women, who said she was testifying as a D.C. resident.
DeVecchio was one of three women who are members of the D.C. Republican Central Committee to testify today in opposition to the amendment. Although the women said they were speaking as D.C. residents rather than representatives of the Republican Party, the chairman of the Maryland Young Republicans and Rep Robert Bauman (R-Md.), the conservative congressman from the Eastern Shore, also testified against the measure.
The chairman of the D.C. Republican Party, Paul Hays, is an active supporter of ratification, and testified in behalf of the proposal before the Pennsylvania legislature.
The amendment must be ratified by 38 state legislatures by 1985. So far only three states -- New Jersey, Ohio and Michigan -- have ratified it. Four other states rejected the measure and one state has postponed action.
Bauman and several of the other members said they were worried that the D.C. amendment, if ratified, would establish a bad precedent.
Some speakers said they feared that other large cities or a political entity like Peurto Rico, would seek a similar representation measure.
"Why should a political entity wish to become a state with all its attendant responsibilities when it can have all the political advantages without the liabilities?" asked Charles E. Thomann, a citizen of Annapolis.
Virginia Ronhovde, first vice president of the D.C. League of Republican Women, said she and some other citizen activists in the District have been circulating a petition against the amendment.