September 21, 2017
Politics & Opinion
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Aye, Nay, Abstain: Voting With A Purpose

Councilman Michael Peroutka
Councilman Michael Peroutka's picture
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February 8, 2017

It may surprise you to know that the State of the Union address is not actually required by the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the tradition set by presidents of delivering a yearly review is mirrored by the governor and county executives, who typically deliver a State of the State or State of the County message.

So, I think it timely to mention a few highlights of last year’s legislative activity and review, albeit briefly, the reasons I voted as I did.

Below is a summary of measures I have voted for and against, along with my general reasoning for doing so. The complete voting record for each councilman can be found on www.aacounty.org.

Aye

For the most part, I have voted for measures designed to make it easier to run a business or a household, repealing or loosening regulations that are burdensome and intrusive. For example, I have voted to allow business activities like small neighborhood nurseries, personal fitness studios and composting facilities in appropriate rural areas.

Additionally, I sponsored three measures designed to either repeal or to reduce the oppressive “rain tax,” which I believe is unconstitutional and based on insufficient scientific evidence. I also sponsored a measure to severely restrict “workforce housing” projects because I believe, as designed, they are an attempt by federal bureaucrats to socially engineer our neighborhoods.

Nay

I vote against all measures that directly or indirectly increase taxes because I believe that you can spend your money more efficiently than government. (Besides, it’s yours.) Also, I have voted against tax credits for some groups on the theory that the group is especially deserving. This is because no matter how deserving some group might be, when the council votes them a reduction in their tax, it automatically increases the tax that is levied on all others. While it may seem coldhearted, I believe I would violate my oath to take money from other taxpayers and give it to them.

I regularly vote against accepting grant money from the federal or the state government. I am generally alone in this. Desiring to get the “free money,” I believe my colleagues forget that it always comes with strings attached. The attached “strings” means the council, in exchange to for the “free” money, trades away the property rights or the liberties of its own citizens. (Remember when your mother taught you that there is no such thing as a free lunch? She was right.)

Of course, I am duty-bound to vote against measures that violate the United States Constitution, the Maryland Constitution or the Anne Arundel County Charter.

Abstain

Clearly, abstentions are appropriate when there is a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof.

But there can be other reasons. Oftentimes, amendments are entered and voted on almost simultaneously. This means that a complete understanding of the ramifications is impossible to discern. There are other times when a bill might not be offensive on its face, but the underlying program to which it applies may be offensive. For example, I had no direct objection to a bill designed to make expenditures of the stormwater management program more efficient. However, I believed the underlying program to be unlawful and did not want to validate it with a yes or a no vote. Therefore, I abstained.

 

It is a privilege to serve you. I am trying to do it consistently and transparently, and I am grateful for your counsel and critique.


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