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Legislative session critiqued

April 19, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Community leaders questioned the effectiveness of Washington County's state lawmakers during a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce forum Wednesday morning.

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One of the most critical questions came from Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, who asked why the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly brings back only half of the money they seek.

Lawmakers defended their actions during the 90-day session that ended last week.

"This delegation fights very hard to get what is our share of state dollars," Delegation Chairman Del. Robert McKee, R-Washington, told the group of about 100 people at the Four Points Hotel.

Washington County was denied funding for a Civil War Museum, veterans home and a library for Clear Spring.

Gov. Parris Glendening gave the county an extra $2.7 million for projects at the state prison complex south of Hagerstown, McKee said.

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"His priorities for the prison are not our priorities," McKee said.

Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, said Washington County needs to do a better job compromising and working with Glendening.

"He has the pocketbook, folks, and we have to figure out how we work with the governor to get these things funded," she said.

Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, who was criticized during the session for angering the governor, did not attend the forum.

Bruchey took a crack at Munson's absence by asking what subcommittee meeting would take precedence over the chamber forum, which was scheduled six months ago.

McKee said Munson was at a committee meeting in Ohio. Also absent were Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington, and Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington.

Del. Christopher Shank, R-Washington, said he tried to work with Glendening. In fact, he said, he voted for 14 of the governor's 18 legislative initiatives.

He said, however, he wasn't willing to compromise on several controversial issues, such as requiring built-in locks on handguns and expanding a law to provide minimum wages for workers on state school construction jobs.

"I'm not going to do something that will hurt my constituents. That's not what I was elected to do," Shank said.

Del. Joseph Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington, said he voted against the gun bill even though Glendening made it clear his opposition would come with a cost.

"In the end I need to be able to be happy with what I did. I have to wake up in the morning and be able to look in the mirror," he said.

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