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Hopeless legislation will get a pass

February 09, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County lawmakers won't pursue several bills in the Maryland General Assembly on the grounds they are doomed to fail.

That logic puzzled one freshman lawmaker.

Ranking members of the county legislative delegation expressed doubt last week about the chances of exempting Hagerstown from the Forest Conservation Act or giving city landlords relief from strict lead paint rules.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, asked why the delegation has a shot at changing the state's vehicle emissions inspection law, but not the other laws.

"Alex has a good question. Only God can answer that," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Hagerstown City officials have long complained that the Forest Conservation Act, which requires developers to plant trees, discourages development in the city.

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Lawmakers have tried, with little success, to get state officials to bend on the rules, they said.

It's the same story with the state's lead paint rules, which have been opposed by Hagerstown landlords, they said.

Mooney and Del. Joseph R. Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington, said they would like to try to change the lead paint law.

Ranking lawmakers said a number of proposals have been tried and failed.

Due to the complexity of the issue, Munson said it's too late for a bill this year.

The delegation voted to take a closer look at the issue after the session is over and possibly introduce something next year.

Also discussed was a request from the Hagerstown City Council for legislation to allow police to seize cars in prostitution arrests.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said previous bills have died in committee.

"It may be a waste of time. I understand the intent. We all want to get rid of prostitution in Hagerstown," Donoghue said.

Mooney said he supports the idea.

"I think we ought to move forward with this even if they're going to kill it," he said.

The legislative delegation never voted on the idea due to lack of a motion.

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