If you thought Maryland’s Congressional delegation was business-friendly, you might want to think again.

According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, Maryland’s delegation ranks as the seventh worst in the nation in terms of their votes in Congress on issues important to small business or entrepreneurs.

The council tallies and issues an annual scorecard of votes in order to determine how our representatives vote on such issues.

According to the scorecard, Maryland’s delegation voted with business 35.2 percent of the time in 2005, putting the state 44th in the nation.

Representatives from the top eight states voted small business interests 90.6 to 95.7 percent of the time.

Those states are Idaho and Oklahoma, tied in first place, Alaska and Wyoming, tied in second, with Utah, Kentucky, Alabama and Nebraska, following respectively.

In the tri-state area, Pennsylvania ranked 25th at the halfway mark while West Virginia’s delegation ranked 38th, only six places ahead of Maryland.

Council president and chief financial officer Karen Kerrigan said that while most politicians talk favorably about small businesses, the council puts their voting records to the test.

Council chief economist Raymond J. Keating said that the best policy environment for entrepreneurship and small business is one of “low taxes, free trade and a light regulatory touch.”

Members of the U.S. Senate were scored on 23 votes as were members of the U.S. House of Representatives. However, one House vote was given extra weight, as members were informed in advance by the council. All votes were counted in the state scores.

Most of us know that starting a small business and keeping it going in either Maryland or West Virginia is not an easy task.

It might be a good idea for local small business people and entrepreneurs to write to those representatives with at least a request for an explanation of their votes on those issues of particular interest to their business.

The 2005 scorecard can be read and downloaded from the SBE Council Web site at www.sbecouncil.org.

So perhaps if you don’t want to take to go to Idaho or Alaska to open a business, maybe the next best thing is to look at where the jobs are, particularly in the local area.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the greatest need for higher skilled workers will be in health care, education, accounting and computer services.

Despite a critic’s assertion that the computer industry has been scamming us into buying new and better every couple of years instead of upgrading our equipment and software, there is still a need for technicians who repair and upgrade both.

About six years ago I bought a computer that had a Windows 98 operating system.

My husband bought a new computer with Windows Millennium a couple years later and two years ago bought one with Windows XP Professional.

I was assured six years ago that my computer was upgradeable but when time came to do that, the response was “it’s too old and slow and will cost more than a new one.”

Of course, I was assured when I bought the one with Windows XP that it was much more easily upgraded and would never be a problem.

The new generation of computer includes Windows Vista™ and Microsoft is expected to be marketing it soon if the company isn’t already.

My old Windows 98 was connected to the Internet via a dial-up service for a couple years but it was so sloooow.

It is going into a yard sale now after several years of a family member using it as a word processor.

The Millennium also has been used mostly as a word processor and has never been online.

The XP is great but even with DSL I’ve started to notice it doesn’t do things as fast as I want, especially on the Internet. Do I need to upgrade? Don’t even say new computer.

Besides, a couple weeks ago, we had a thunder storm and the electric flickered. I shut down the power to the computer and later when I tried to reboot, nothing happened.

Luckily we have a pretty good computer repair shop in town so I was able to drive the few blocks to get to it and wait while they confirmed that it was the power module which was replaced on the spot.

All in all I lost a couple of hours and it took about $75 to fix.

Obviously these are not the highest paid professionals but they were there when I needed them and that is important.

Oh, by the way this is a homegrown entrepreneurial business that started with two people about the same time I bought the Windows 98 computer and now has several tech employees who area available in shop and for house calls.

Mona Ridder can be reached at mridder@times-news.com.

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