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Category: Archives

Who Are The Bad Guys?

Editorial: Sprawl May 2001 In our culture, we like clearly defined good guys and bad guys, the white hats and the black hats. Thus, when faced with a depressing sea of cookie cutter houses scattered across formerly prime farm land, we want to blame someone. We want to point fingers. It is the fault of the greedy farmer, the greedy developer, the greedy home buyer, the greedy politician. But the truth is that “it” is no one’s fault. It, land planning, is a confluence of factors and decisions that are a reflection of those who take the most active roles in politics and policy. Land planning is also a reflection of the times, an attempt to make plans for the future based on the curent set of perceived needs. Like playing the ponies, sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t. Suburban sprawl is not the fault of the farmers. A farmer has a right to make a living and support his family. Because of surrounding suburban pressures, farming can become increasing economically unviable. The land a farmer owns (or owns with the bank) may be his only capital asset, and sometimes it may make more financial sense for him to develop his land than for him to continue farming. Even with a plethora of land conservation options designed to make it more financially attractive to hold on to...

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A Trails Advocate Proposal for a Paid State Position

August 2005 by Peggy Bree Overview  Maryland needs to develop a comprehensive and coordinated statewide trail system to support the rapid growth of Maryland’s horse industry, the increasing population of pleasure horses, and the increasing popularity of trail riding. Trails are essential to the sports of recreational, competitive, and endurance trail riding as well as foxchasing. In addition, trails are also used to exercise and condition horses for various other activities and competitions including showing, foxchasing, polo, timber racing, three-day eventing, and dressage. All of these sports contribute signifi cantly to the economic health of the Maryland horse industry. Although Maryland has some of the most extensive trail networks on the East Coast, the state has yet to recognize the potential tourism revenue that can be realized from ancillary services associated with trails. Other mid-Atlantic states are successfully attracting business by off ering extensive trail networks augmented by equestrian campgrounds and facilities, and by eff ectively promoting these tourism opportunities. This is revenue that Maryland is losing. Current Status of Trails on Public Lands  Development is rapidly consuming trail networks on farms and private lands. At the same time, existing equestrian trails on public lands are rapidly being paved to create urban multi-use trails that are overcrowded with bikers, skaters, joggers, dog walkers and baby carriages, and are no longer safe or appropriate for equestrian use. Environmentalists are excluding...

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J.B. Jennings on Slots

November 2005 Dear Maryland Horse People: Magna Corporation has decided to limit the number of racing days at Laurel and Pimlico racetracks next year, continuing the downward slide of Maryland’s once- great horse racing industry. Th is is something that I am all too familiar with. As the owner of a feed store, I have seen several of my customers leave and take their operations to Delaware and West Virginia. As a member of the General Assembly, I was the co-lead sponsor of a slots bill that I believe would have funded both purses and [Maryland-]bred funds to the levels they must be to compete with surrounding states. Unfortunately, this bill, like all other slots bills, did not make it to the governor’s desk for his signature. In Annapolis, I have tried to ex- plain the importance of the horse industry to my fellow legislators. I have also attempted to illustrate what I see as a growing trend of racing and breeding operations closing down in this state and moving elsewhere. Many of the examples I cite are only reflective of situations I know of. That is why I am writing to you. I want to describe to each one of my colleagues true-life situations involving breeders, trainers, and owners from their individual districts. I want them to see how this crisis is aff ecting their constituents. Now is...

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Annapolis Roundup: Time to Get Serious

by Timothy Capps April 2006 The arrival of March in Maryland brings tantalizingly warm days (alternating with reminders that winter is not yet behind us); mare watching (mares have no respect for either “on time” or daytime); fox chasing; and plans for tailgating at those spring equestrian events. In Annapolis, the coming of March means that it is time for the General Assembly to start getting down to the details, con- ducting subcommittee and work group sessions, and enduring lengthy, often tedious committee bill hearings on a myriad of legislative initiatives, many of them arcane and narrowly focused. The final month of the session – especially the last two weeks – is usually so frantic that many serious students of public policy question whether a single, 90-day legislative session can adequately address the many issues that come before the General Assembly each year. Their argument is that with government’s role in today’s society being so expansive, 90 days does not permit reasonable and comprehensive debate on matters that often have significant impact on budgets and taxes, not to mention the fundamental question of what government should and should not attempt to do. Others, less enamored of the desirability of more government (in legislative or any other form), would keep things the way they are or further minimize them. Indeed, there is a wide disparity between states when it comes...

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Riding the Democratic Landslide

December 2006 by Timothy Capps “All politics is local.” No one is quite sure where that saying originated, although former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Thomas “Tip” O’Neill wrote a political memoir entitled just that. He and others attributed the comment to legendary former Speaker Sam Rayburn, who served as head of the House for 17 years in a congressional career spanning 48 years. “Mr. Sam” had a brilliant mind and a homespun Texas style that, together, produced the most effective House leader in history – but if he’d only coined the “all politics is local” phrase, he would be a political immortal. A cursory review of the months of media spin and punditry – along with the tidal wave of advertising, yard signs, fundraisers, community events, etc. that marked the campaigns of 2006 – would suggest that this was a year in which local issues took a back seat to larger national concerns, such as the Iraq war and immigration. Maryland Is Still Maryland  In Maryland, however, it is clear from the results of this year’s statewide and local elections that all politics is still local. Yes, there was a lot of effort on the part of Democrats to try to tie Republicans to President Bush and the Iraq war, and the Republicans tried to suggest that the Dems were soft on security and would tax...

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