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In Annapolis

February 13, 2000

ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Senate has passed legislation that would give people an incentive to show up for out-of-court mediation in Washington County child support cases.

Washington County Department of Social Services Director David Engle testified last month on behalf of the conciliation conferences, which allow one-third of child support appeals to be settled before court.

Word has gotten out that there is no punishment for skipping the conferences, he said.

The law, if passed by the House of Delegates and signed by Gov. Parris Glendening, would give Washington County Circuit Court judges the power to issue a so-called body attachment, in which a police officer brings a violator before the court to explain the absence.

 

Bay tag approved, 'ag tag' uncertain

ANNAPOLIS - Despite concerns from local lawmakers, a proposal to renew the Chesapeake Bay commemorative license plates was approved by a House of Delegates Committee last week.

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Rural lawmakers think the state should approve a new commemorative plate for agriculture affectionately known as the "ag tag." Money raised from purchase of the plates would go to agricultural education.

The Senate has already approved the renewal and House of Delegates approval is likely now that it has the approval of the Commerce and Government Matters Committee.

Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, and Del. David R. Brinkley, R-Carroll/Frederick, voted against the renewal.

Brinkley said the 15-year-old Chesapeake Bay Foundation can support itself without the tags now that it has an $8.7 million endowment.

It's time the state gave another group an opportunity, said Snodgrass, who hoped that group would be the farming community.

Committee member Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said he passed on the bill, which means he didn't vote yes or no.

Shank said he didn't want to vote against the renewal since 5,800 cars in Washington County have the bay tags.

Although the ag tag proposal will still get a hearing, in the past, the legislature has been reluctant to have more than one commemorative state plate.

 

Fed could end tax on local governments

ANNAPOLIS - Sen. Alex X. Mooney wants the Maryland General Assembly to ask Congress for a Constitutional Amendment.

The amendment would prevent federal courts from taxing local governments, said Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington.

Mooney said got the idea from Sen. Walter M. Baker, chairman of his committee, Judicial Proceedings.

In Vermont and Illinois, federal court decisions have forced local governments to increase taxes, he said.

Mooney has prepared a Senate Joint Resolution. A hearing is set for March 1 in his committee.

Fifteen other states have passed similar resolutions, he said.

 

Delegates mixed on cell-phone proposal

ANNAPOLIS - For the second year in a row, the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee is considering a proposal to ban cell phone use while driving.

But this year, one local lawmaker is rethinking his opposition after a hearing last week.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said he hasn't made up his mind how he will vote.

"I'm troubled by the government increasing regulation into our private affairs, but on the other hand there is evidence it's dangerous. We need to do something to make the roads safer," he said.

Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, said she will probably vote against the bill again this year.

"Start with cell phones and where do we stop? Do we tell people they can't eat a Big Mac in their car?" she said.

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