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Deposition of Clerk Delayed

The Assoicated Press reports that a panel of judges yesterday delayed plans to depose the chief clerk of the Maryland House of Delegates in a Republican-led legal challenge to last month's special session of the General Assembly.

Republicans say all laws from the special session are invalid, alleging that the Senate violated the state constitution by taking too long of a break during the session without consent from the House. Democrats have called the allegation frivolous.

GOP lawyers say that Mary Monahan's testimony is essential to their case and that the chief clerk has been eluding their efforts to depose her. Irwin R. Kramer, an attorney for Republicans, had scheduled a deposition with her for today.

The attorney general's office then filed an emergency motion to stop the deposition, pending an appeal. A three-judge panel on the Court of Special Appeals delayed the deposition until further order from the court.

Republicans base their case on a provision in the state constitution that prevents one chamber of the General Assembly from adjourning for more than three days during a session without the permission of the other chamber. They say the Senate violated the rule, and thus $1.3 billion in taxes signed into law and legislation seeking a constitutional amendment to legalize slot machine gambling in Maryland are invalid.

The lawsuit is an effort to get the court to block higher taxes that take effect Tuesday.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  December 27, 2007; 12:05 PM ET
 
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Comments

That's pathetic. So even if they are successful, they have achieved what? That would mean the General Assembly would have to take all of these measures back up and will probably end up with the same result (additional taxes, etc.). Meanwhile, that would eat up valuable time the Assembly could be addressing other issues.

Republicans are sore losers (and bad strategists).

Posted by: InMoCo | December 27, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I doubt they would pass the computer tax. Chairman Currie of Budget and Tax reminded me of someone at a gift exchange party who would reach into a grab bag, come up with a new tax, ask, "How much money will this get us," and then decide whether to keep the gift or exchange it. No study, no adequate hearings. Just a tax increase party by people who are much more like the grasshopper than the ants. Plus now the employers have the new withholding tables and I guarantee the employees don't like seeing less money in their paychecks.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | December 28, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Why is it that the same people who were in such a rush to have that tax-increase party that was a called a special session are now so slow to want to answer questions about it? Mary Monahan, who has always had rapid-fire responses to questions posed by legislators now is lost for words. Rob Garagiola, my state senator, who sent out 15 campaign mailings calling himself "independent" without mentioning a single tax increase, now can't produce a single communication which he received from our district telling him to raise any tax, let alone to be the deciding vote in a 24-23 vote to raise them all including the computer tax!

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | December 30, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

InMoCo:

What's pathetic about a computer business owner filing a suit over an 11th hour closed door deal to tax computer related services which was struck without debate and will affect his livelihood? Gym and tanning salon owners had a chance to have their voices heard but computer business owners did not. Most reasonable people would agree that the process was unfair and apparently now the courts are also in agreement. Many people have been oblivious to the whole special session. Litigating this out as long as possible will help to expose the Democrats that support this plan to take from everyone. If nothing, this will show the people who's fighting to keep people's money in their bank accounts and out of the hands of the tax and spend Democrats. It's actually a brilliant idea and everyone that opposes higher taxes will agree.

Posted by: Fleeced | January 1, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

To Fleeced:

I'm not a fan of more taxes, in fact I'm really not thrilled that I'm going to have to pay more of them. I don't think anyone comes out and asks for a tax hike. The reality is that if we want to have public services (police, good roads, good schools, fire fighters, libraries, social services, etc.) we need money to pay for them. I'm all for government reform and cutting on spending, but saying "NEVER!" to raising taxes is folly. This tactic by the Republicans is going to result in what? The money to close the financial gap (that was glazed over and not addressed by the previous Republican Administration) is going to need to come from somewhere by law. If the Republicans are successful we will be in the exact same situation with a looming budget gap and taxes will need to be raised AGAIN except this time there may be new lobbies for the computer services industry and other businesses, so the taxes may come from different places. This looks like a political stunt that will bear little fruit and waste time while ending us up in the same place with more taxes. I stand by what I said before, it's pathetic.

Posted by: InMoCo | January 2, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

well, fleeced, i hope this doesn't come across as crass because i feel your pain, but it sounds to me like gyms and tanning salons, as you noted, apparently had better lobbyists working hard in annapolis for them than the computer service industry. who's fault is that? none of us may like the way the system works, but that's the way the system works.

Posted by: just a thought | January 2, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

The "technicalities" of the lawsuit wouldn't be so pertinent if the legislature didn't have a rich history of passing unconstitutional bills and getting smacked down by the courts. I seem to remember several veto overrides last year getting overturned by courts that agreed with the Governor.

On top of that, a Post article on Monday or Tuesday (I can't find it online now) described the plaintiffs complaint as showing that the Senate had falsified records pertaining to communications with the House about the recess - hence the need to depose the House Chief Clerk. If there is any merit to this argument (and the judges requiring the deposition of the clerk seem to think there is), then this is way beyond a technicality and a new level of arrogance on behalf of our legislature.

Posted by: SoftwareDeveloper | January 2, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I was successful once in the 1980's and twice in the l990's in winning Federal lawsuits overturning state laws that had been passed virtually unanimously by the legislature, signed by the Governor and certified as consitutional by the Attorney General. The legislature has a history of doing what is expedient, ignoring the federal and state constitutions and ordering up the appropriate opinion from the Attorney General to say they have done the right thing.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | January 3, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

InMoCo:

I hear the same opening phrase time and time again. "I'm no fan of taxes but....". But what? Do you know what the state's annual budget is? Roughly 30 billion dollars. There's plenty of room in that budget to make up any shortfall (and if the surplus wasn't squandered in the first year of O'Malley's term, it might have been even easier to deal with). We elect leaders to make tough decisions. O'Malley took the easy road...right over our backs. He made a ton of campaign promises and raising taxes across the board wasn't one of them. Be that as it may, at issue here is a corrupt fabrication of a legislative document. If justice prevails, we'll see who tried to cover their tracks after they realized that they didn't follow the constitution. What a joke when a lawyer (Mike Miller) doesn't know the law. He should have done his homework instead of being blinded by $ signs from the slots lobby.

Posted by: Fleeced | January 3, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

justathought:

I partially agree with you but I think you've missed the point. When the legislature disappeared for 4 days in November and came back with a plan to tax computer services just before Busch rapped the gavel, lobbyists never had a chance to weigh-in. You can't debate what isn't made public until the absolute last minute.

Posted by: Fleeced | January 3, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Robin,

People can say what they will about you but at least you stick to your guns. You know this tax increase hurts Marylanders and is unjust and was also hidden in O'Malley's back pocket throughout his campaign because he didn't stand a chance in getting elected by making it public. People call you lots of things on this blog but at least you've got principals. What does it take to recall a Governor in Maryland?

Posted by: Fleeced | January 3, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

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