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Poole bill to establish trade apprenticeships

April 15, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

ANNAPOLIS - A program that will provide state funding for apprenticeship programs in construction trades was approved shortly before the Maryland General Assembly adjourned its 90-day session at midnight Monday.

The legislation will help address the lack of qualified tradespeople in Washington County and other parts of the state, said Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington, the bill's sponsor.

"More than anything, what I want to bring back to Washington County is the hope of getting good jobs at good wages for people," Poole said.

Poole and other supporters of the bill had to sweat out an agonizing last few hours of the legislative session, during which a potentially costly amendment was removed before final passage.

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"It was unbelievable," Poole said.

Area contractors have said they face a critical shortage of plumbers, carpenters, electricians and other well-trained crafts people. Some have said they have had to turn away work because they don't have enough qualified people.

Poole's program will award grants of up to $1,000 each for apprenticeship programs as enticement for students to enter the trades.

The legislation has been two years in the making for Poole, who fought charges that it was a form of corporate welfare to get it passed in the House of Delegates.

Late last week the bill seemed doomed when the Senate added an amendment that would have required that apprentices be hired for school construction projects. That could have increased the cost of schools substantially, Poole said.

The amendment was removed Monday evening.

Because there is no money specifically budgeted for the program, funding will have to be found in the state budget to pay for the program, which will cost nearly $2 million a year.Poole said Gov. Parris N. Glendening supports the program and will try to find the funding.

"I really believe he will come up with some money as soon as he can," Poole said.

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