Fact checking ‘Record’

Yesterday the Frank Kratovil for Congress campaign decided to go negative, just as I figured they did it first. Here’s the ad they dubbed “Record”:

What interested me the most was the so-called poor environmental record they tagged Andy Harris with, citing a number of votes he’d taken since 1999. I took the opportunity to look up some of these bills and found out one of them made it into my monoblogue Legislative Scorecard for this season. The other bills Kratovil cited were reintroductions of a bill that didn’t make it through previous sessions. I’ll begin with my description of one bill Harris properly voted against, this year’s HB1253.

HB1253/SB844Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area Protection Program – Administrative and Enforcement Provisions

Why I’d vote no: Perhaps the bill has merit in making enforcement more consistent statewide; however, I have objections to doubling the buffer area of land in certain instances, the “soft shoreline” provisions, and the overly punitive nature of penalties. Originally the bill would have allowed the state free rein to inspect construction sites as well, one of the amendments addressed this issue.

Disposition: HB1253 passed the House of Delegates 119-15 (Vote #1088), passed the Senate 41-6 (Vote #1011), and was approved by Governor O’Malley on April 24, 2008.

You’ll notice that Harris had a little company in his vote, included in that company is one of our local Senators, Lowell Stoltzfus. Harris did vote the bill out of committee, but obviously Frank Kratovil’s campaign doesn’t count the committee vote. This bill as crossfiled and a previous version are three of the nine bills Frank cites.

Another bill cited in five different versions was a bill debaring people from state contracts for certain violations of law. I’ll allow Governor Ehrlich to speak as to why this bill was worth voting against; this is from his veto letter in 2003:

Trending: Thank You

I believe that the approval of Senate Bill 122 would have a chilling effect on the companies wishing to do business with the State, particularly in light of the fact that there is no distinction made between willful violations and minor violations (such as accidents) that may occur without the knowledge or intent of the contractor. The threat of debarment may cause companies to shy away from State contracts, which, in turn, would have an adverse effect on competition and negatively impact the price of competitively bid procurements.

Additionally, the inclusion of contiguous jurisdictions in the civil violations section raises possible equal protection issues. A contractor may violate the law in 46 other states and the District of Columbia and be immune from debarment, but would be denied immunity from debarment if the violation occurred in a state contiguous to Maryland. While a court may find that this provision is rationally related to protecting an interest of the State, it undoubtedly will invite litigation and complicate the procurement process.

Senate Bill 122 does not enhance the Board of Public Works’ ability to protect the integrity of the State procurement process, and it complicates the ability of the State to secure efficiently and fairly necessary State contracts. I have pledged to the citizens of Maryland to deliver a streamlined, more efficient government, and I intend to keep that promise.

Again, Andy had plenty of company because it was essentially a party-line vote in each of the five cases cited in the commercial.

The final vote Kratovil counts against Andy Harris was voting against increasing penalties for certain environmental violations. While that doesn’t seem good in and of itself, this also gave the courts the power to compel owners to fix violations (see the final page).

Now let’s talk about the League of Conservation Voters. They seem to have a problem with Andy Harris voting against the following (among other items):

  • an amendment to weaken the job-killing, so-called Global Warming Solutions act;
  • the cap-and-trade auctions (read: sticking it to utility providers) like the one we had last week;
  • the Critical Areas legislation I wrote about above;
  • the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which is a budget-busting mandate for utility providers, and;
  • wetlands and waterway permit fees – yet another fee for developers to pass along to prospective homeowners.

Guess what? I have no problem with him voting no and right-thinking voters shouldn’t have an issue with it either. You know, I’d comment on Frank Kratovil’s legislative record but – oh wait, he doesn’t have one.

And since I’m in for a penny, I’m in for a pound. Here’s the commercial the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dumped big money into Kratovil’s campaign for:

Again, I looked up the bills in question and both of these are health insurance coverage mandates. It’s mandates like these that make health insurance so expensive. Think of it this way – if I had true choice in my health insurance and could get it with specific coverages I desire, obviously I have no need for OB/GYN services. A younger person may not desire the cancer screening that the other bill makes all health insurance policies in Maryland feature.

Oh, and that $400,000 in health care contributions? It’s a drop in the bucket compared to that $1.6 million the DCCC is dumping into Frank’s campaign. Do you think they’re buying independence? You know, it’s too bad that question didn’t come up in the debate because I really wanted to see Frank squirm out of that one.

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