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Several bills passed as Annapolis ends session

April 12, 1999

A summary of some of the legislation affecting Washington County that passed the Maryland General Assembly and goes to Gov. Parris Glendening to be signed:

* University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center. The state budget includes $150,000 in planning money for the campus.

The money will allow campus supporters to get started on the $12 million facility off Interstate 70 at Downsville Pike on land being donated by Allegheny Power.

It is projected classes will start in the fall of 2002.

* Right to farm. Washington County will have the power to protect farmers from nuisance complaints.

The County Commissioners, with the help of the Washington County Farm Bureau, will work out the details of local regulations.

The farm bureau has proposed notifying people who are moving into agricultural areas of the sights, sounds and smells that are associated with farms.

* Home builders license. Washington County, in an effort to protect consumers, will have the power to license home builders for the first time.

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The Home Builders Association of Washington County asked for the legislation.

Details will be worked out by the county government.

* YMCA grant. The Hagerstown YMCA will get $500,000 toward a new facility on Eastern Boulevard.

Work on the $7.3 million facility is set to begin by November for a February 2001 opening. The YMCA has raised $4.5 million.

* Hospital clinic grant. Washington County Hospital will get $870,000 to help renovate a downtown building into a health clinic.

After the $2.16 million renovation is complete in August, the new health clinic between Prospect and Walnut streets will replace a Potomac Street clinic. The hospital will be able to offer dental and expanded mental health services.

* Washington County borrowing authority. The County Commissioners will be able to take on $50 million in long-term debt over the next four years.

Every four years, the commissioners must get permission from the legislature to go into debt for building projects such as schools and landfills.

Four years ago, the county got the power to borrow $40 million and used $28 million of that.

The legislature also gave the county the power to borrow $5 million for a short time if needed to cover a cash-flow problem.

* South Mountain Battlefield task force. The task force will study creation of the first-ever state battlefield park at South Mountain.

The eight-member task force will work with the Department of Natural Resources and report to the legislature on Jan. 19, 2000.

* Corrections cocktail. It will be a misdemeanor for both county and state prison inmates to throw a mixture of bodily fluids on prison guards. The crime is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 10 extra years in prison.

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