Just over a year ago, as state legislators from Prince George's County were preparing for the 1980 session of the General Assembly, County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan called them all to Upper Marlboro for a breakfast meeting and handed out his "wish list."
On the list were such requests as increased state aid to help the county fund Metro, pay for police protection and support its public school system. The state was reporting a huge surplus -- projections ran up to $300 million -- and Prince George's deserved some of that money, Hogan told the legislators.
This week, a year after the breakfast meeting, the county's representatives are converging on Annapolis' cobblestone streets with little state surplus expected. As a result, there is no wish list and no optimistic hope for huge fiscal gain.
In fact, suburban representatives are approaching this session quite warily, hoping to maintain the status quo but nervous that the state's prevarious economic circumstances this year may hurt them financially.
"From our standpoint we made some significant gains last year and we want to protect those gains this year," said Ella Ennis, Hogan's liaison to the statehouse, echoing the views of Prince George's and Montgomery County legislators. "I don't think we'll lose anything, though problems could occur."
Because their focus is in maintaining last year's successes, the two counties have developed only modest goals for this session. For instance, Prince George's, as in past years, is asking the state to assume funding of county courthouse and board of elections operations.
The Hogan administration also hopes to obtain some aid in renovating the historic, although dilapidated Buck House, located across from the County Administration Building. The county also will push this session to change Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission regulations so that private developers, rather than the WSSC itself, are responsible for bringing water and sewer lines to a development. The move is the result of recently publicized charges of bid collusions among development contractors.
In Montgomery, the Gilchrist administration intends to oppose changes in school aid formulas that would benefit any other locality without providing additional aid to Montgomery. The county also hopes to change state laws relating to condominium conversions so regulatory powers would be given to the county rather than the state.
Because of the furor developing over the state's transportation funding, however, Gilchrist has temporarily postponed an effort to obtain state aid to cover an increase in the service of the county's Ride On commuter bus program.
In addition to official county proposals, several local issues and bills proposed by area legislators may prove controversial. Bills such as those that deal with drunken driving and precious metal dealers will likely create the media event that drug paraphernalia caused last year.
Del. Luiz Simmons (R-Montgomery) has proposed an amendment to the state ethics law that would prohibit any state or local official from holding interest in or working for any cable television company. If passed -- an unlikely prospect -- the bill would affect some of the area's most notable and influential political personages. Another Montgomery delegate, Democrat Stewart Bainum, has introduced a bill that would take away liquor licenses and tax breaks from clubs that do not admit women or minorities.
In Prince George's, Democratic Sen. Arthur Dorman has introduced a bill that would allow small amounts of marijuana to be used legally by cancer and glaucoma patients. Del. Tom Mooney (Democrat), is proposing to make excessive violence in professional sports a crime and Del. Charles Blumenthal, also a Democrat, has proposed a bill to prohibit persons who rent, lease or manage rental housing from discriminating against children in rental practices.