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Local work finished as General Assembly ends

April 11, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - The Washington County Delegation is going into the Maryland General Assembly's last session today with no local bills to worry about.

The final two pieces of local legislation, which had earlier been approved by the House of Delegates, got Senate approval late Saturday.

One bill gives the Washington County Commissioners the power to license home builders.

Another sets up a task force to create a South Mountain Battlefield State Park. It would be the first state park battlefield in Maryland.

Although the home builders legislation allows the county to license home builders, work is just beginning on the details of the regulation.

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"I think we have our work cut out for us. At least now we have the opportunity to sit down and accomplish something," said Jim Fahey, president of the Home Builders Association of Washington County.

The legislature still has to give final approval on grants for the Washington County Hospital and the Hagerstown YMCA.

But it's just a formality since committees from both the Senate and the House of Delegates have recommended identical awards.

The hospital will use its $870,000 grant to renovate a downtown building for a health clinic. The YMCA will use its $500,000 to build a new facility on Eastern Boulevard.

It's a little unusual to be going into the final day of the 90-day legislative session with no major local issues left on the table, lawmakers said.

"It's nice to have it out of the way," said Delegation Chairman Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said the delegation didn't have any controversial or complicated legislation this year. In previous recent years, the delegation dealt with complex regulation of tip jar gambling in the county.

As late as Friday, the sailing didn't look so smooth for the delegation.

A Senate filibuster on the cigarette tax that began Friday threatened to kill numerous pieces of legislation including the two local issues.

But once the Senate reduced the $1-per-pack tax increase to 30 cents, other legislation began moving quickly.

The House of Delegates worked a rare Sunday session. Both legislative bodies will reconvene at 10 a.m. today.

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