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Pipkin: Some gun bill opponents weren’t registered voters

When the General Assembly held hearings on Gov. Martin O’Malley’s sweeping gun control legislation this year, the line of opponents waiting to testify stretched down the sidewalk and around the corner of the Miller Senate Office Building.

But Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin said Wednesday that lawmakers later learned that many of those people, while state residents, weren’t even registered to vote.

Pipkin, an Upper Shore Republican, made his comments during a phone interview on WBAL radio’s “The C4 Show.” The senator was responding to a question from a caller, who criticized Maryland Republicans for doing a poor job marketing their policy ideas.

In Maryland, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1. Pipkin said people upset with policies advanced by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and the legislature’s Democratic majority needed to make sure they could participate in elections.

“We’re outnumbered,” Pipkin said of Republicans.

With some upset about the state’s new tax on gasoline and a stormwater fee imposed on 10 jurisdictions — meant to improve Chesapeake Bay water quality, but derided by opponents as a “rain tax” — Pipkin said “we’re at a critical juncture here.”

He also responded to critics who have charged that state Republicans spend their time knocking down administration policies without offering alternatives of their own.

Pipkin noted that Republicans in the Senate suggested creating regional transit authorities to pay for projects such as Baltimore’s Red Line and the Purple Line in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

The tax increase that was improved by the legislature includes a study of such a funding authority, but also increased Maryland’s gas tax for the first time since 1992.