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Delegation to offer easiest bills first

January 26, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County legislators agreed Wednesday to advance three of the least controversial pieces of legislation in a long list of requests.

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The county delegation to the Maryland General Assembly voted to file local bills concerning expense accounts for the County Commissioners, operating hours for the Orphans Court and the naming of the new District Court building.

Two of the bills were requested by the Washington County Commissioners, who planned to attend Wednesday's meeting but postponed the trip to Annapolis because of snow.

The commissioners had asked for legislation to clarify that they can be reimbursed for on-the-job mileage, as is their practice.

"In Budget and Tax (Committee) we call this a bill to make the law conform with reality," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

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The commissioners also want legislation to set Washington County Orphans Court hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. The law now fixes the hours at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on those days.

The delegation also will file a bill to name the new District Court building after the late J. Louis Boublitz, one of the first judges to serve on its bench.

A grassroots group of District Court employees asked that the new courthouse on Antietam Street be named for Boublitz, who served from 1971 to 1982.

The delegation did not vote on a proposal to stagger the terms of the Washington County Gaming Commission members. The bill is being drafted.

The delegation decided to move forward with two other pieces of legislation on Wednesday, the first of several bill-filing deadlines:

- A bill to exempt the Rohrersville Band from property taxes. Although the band is recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit group, the state requires it to pay $930 a year in property taxes.

- A bill to make three small changes to liquor board regulations. They held off decisions on two other requests from the Board of License Commissioners because of questions.

The delegation put off two other legislative requests in order to get more information:

- A county government request to increase the salaries of election judges. Chief election judges would get $125 instead of $100 a day and other election judges would get $100 instead of $80 a day.

Munson asked that the bill also give legislators access to the names and addresses of county election judges. He said he has been blocked from getting that information since 1990, even though he had such access before that.

- A request from the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts to allow museum trustees to serve in honorary and emeritus roles.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, had suggested the delegation give the museum more autonomy, but legislators learned Wednesday that the only option might be to revoke its charter and start from scratch.

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