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Union bill breezes through Md. Senate

April 02, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Legislation to force the Washington County Commissioners to reinstate collective bargaining for county employees is breezing through the Maryland General Assembly.

The Senate voted 40-0 Wednesday to pass the bill, and it could come before the House of Delegates for final approval today.

"One thing I've learned about this place is never, ever take anything for granted ... (but) this looks as much a certainty as anything that's in the legislature," said Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington.

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There was no debate on the Senate floor before the vote. Delegation members said they had anticipated widespread legislative support, despite the vocal opposition of some of the Washington County Commissioners.

"I wasn't surprised," Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said after the vote.

Munson said the legislature's unofficial rules of local courtesy - under which bills affecting a specific city or county are rarely opposed - worked in favor of getting the legislation passed. He also said he found support from other state lawmakers who "just couldn't believe what had happened in Washington County."

The County Commissioners voted March 18 to abolish collective bargaining rights for county employees.

Last week, the delegation voted 6-0 for legislation to restore collective bargaining for county employees. The legislation was approved by a Senate committee on Monday.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook sent Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, a letter on Tuesday asking for help in stopping "this attempt to impose legislation on us that we do not want."

Miller said he decided to support the legislation because he respects the wishes of Munson and Sen. John W. Derr, R-Frederick/Washington.

Poole said he expects similar results when the bill reaches the House of Delegates. He said he, too, has heard of support from other legislators, even conservative Democrats and Republicans who often find themselves on the other side of labor issues.

"They felt it's foolish to allow a county to do that," Poole said.

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