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County leaders debate need for lobbyists

October 06, 2000

County leaders debate need for lobbyists



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer


Western Maryland county leaders disagreed Friday about whether their voice in the state assembly is strong enough.

"Maybe we should have someone look out for our interests in Annapolis," Garrett County Commissioner Wendell Beitzel said at a roundtable discussion in Boonsboro.

But Washington County's commissioners were not enthusiastic about using lobbyists to increase their influence.

"If it's something truly worthy that needs to get to Annapolis, it will get there," Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said.

"If there's an issue that's near and dear to us, we're down there," Commission President Gregory I. Snook said.

Commissioners and administrators from Washington, Frederick, Allegany, Carroll and Garrett counties met Friday at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike. Two representatives from the Maryland Association of Counties, or MACO, also attended.

Many agreed their top priority in the next Maryland General Assembly session will be more state education funding.

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John R. Woolums, MACO's associate director, said the formulas for special education and disabled student transportation need to be changed.

The County Commissioners also talked about right-to-farm legislation, impact fees and building codes, among other things.

Frederick County Commissioner Ilona Hogan said Western Maryland counties may be at a disadvantage when the assembly makes decisions.

"Look at Montgomery," Hogan said. "They have all the representatives they need in Annapolis and they still have a cadre of lobbyists there."

Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz said he would only support hiring a lobbyist if it gets results.

MACO already takes up the counties' causes and alerts them about important hearings, said Woolums and Michael Sanderson, MACO's legislative director.

In an interview during a break, Carroll County Commission Vice President Donald Dell said he wants Western Maryland to consider a lobbyist.

Allegany County Administrator Vance Ishler was unconvinced.

"It might help some people," he said. "But overall, MACO does a good job of informing us."

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