State Del. Anne Healey (D-Hyattsville) has been selected to serve on an oversight committee of the National Conference of State Legislators, a forum for lawmakers to exchange ideas and information.

She was appointed to a two-year term by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany).

Healey, a delegate since 1991 and the vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the appointment will allow her to play a key role in the development of major policy issues. The group meets three times a year.

Tax Credit on the Road

Two days after unveiling a plan to help the working poor, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) took it on the road, pitching it to a national audience at the Democratic Leadership Council conference in Baltimore.

It seemed as if Duncan was casting himself as national innovator on the subject, joining think-tankers from the Progressive Policy Institute and the Brookings Institution on a DLC panel to discuss "After Welfare Reform: Making Work Pay."

Just one thing: Duncan came to the issue in earnest only after county council members started a debate about it. They proposed to more than double the minimum wage for employees who work for companies receiving county contracts or economic incentives.

Several members were privately galled that Duncan proposed a package of tax cuts and assorted subsidies as an alternative to the "living wage" bill, grumbling that it was more Duncan grandstanding on an issue that has captured Montgomery's imagination.

"The council is very happy Doug Duncan has been born again on the issue of the working poor," said Patrick Lacefield, the council's spokesman. A hearing on the living wage bill is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the council hearing room in Rockville.

Delegates and senators from Arizona, Wisconsin, Colorado and other states ooed and aahed as Duncan outlined his plan, which is pretty innovative, given that it calls for the first county-level earned income tax credit in the country.

Duncan also reaffirmed his call for Maryland legislators to increase the state earned income tax credit--now 10 percent of what poor families receive in their federal tax refund--to 50 percent. Montgomery, he said, would match the state refund dollar for dollar.

The tax credit was hatched not by New Democrats at all, but by old Republicans. It started with President Richard M. Nixon and was expanded by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Clinton, suggesting the ideological boundaries it has managed to cross.

Duncan said he will make increasing the state earned income tax credit part of his legislative package in the next General Assembly. He estimates it would cost the state $250 million a year and suggested that it should be phased in over several years.

Neas Raises Serious Cash

In a show of his seriousness about a rematch in 2000, Democrat Ralph G. Neas has raised more than $100,000 for another campaign against Rep. Constance A. Morella (R-Md.), according to campaign finance disclosure forms for the first six months of this year.

Neas, who spent about $810,000 in an unsuccessful bid to oust Morella last year, reported raising $106,726 and had $103,581 left on hand.

For the same period, Morella campaign Chairman Bill Miller said the seven-term congresswoman from Bethesda had raised about $122,000 and has about $300,000 on hand. At this time two years ago, Neas had not yet formally formed a campaign, while Morella entered the 1998 election cycle with about $200,000 in the bank.

Morella easily defeated Neas in November, winning 60 percent of 212,000 votes cast.

Extending Seat Belt Law

A year ago, three people died in Montgomery County in a collision involving 16-year-old who had had his license for two weeks. Two of those killed were passengers in the teenager's car. They were not wearing seat belts.

With that accident in mind, two Montgomery delegates, William A. Bronrott and Cheryl C. Kagan, both Democrats, will propose a seat belt bill during next year's General Assembly session.

Under already tougher rules that took effect July 1, new drivers must have provisional licenses until they are 17 years, 7 months old. Adding to that, the Bronrott-Kagan bill would require all passengers in a car driven by a provisional license holder to wear a seat belt, whether they are sitting in the front or back seat. Only front-seat passengers are required to wear seat belts now.

Staff writers Jackie Spinner and Spencer S. Hsu contributed to this report.