Delegation delays tax action

January 18, 2001

Delegation delays tax action

By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - State lawmakers voted Wednesday to pursue two of the Washington County Commissioners' legislative requests, but delayed a vote on their controversial transfer tax proposal.

The bills will allow the County Commissioners to set aside money for leaner times and permit undercover officers to purchase equipment without advertising publicly for bids.

Both were approved unanimously with no discussion at the first meeting this session of the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, said he didn't call for a vote on the transfer tax because he believes it would have been killed.


Even if the delegation rejects the county's request to add a 1 percent transfer tax to the purchase of a new home or business, McKee said he believes lawmakers have a responsibility to suggest other solutions for the county's budget woes.

Many lawmakers have been critical of the transfer tax, which would be charged in addition to the state's half-percent transfer tax.

"I just feel that needs a little more thought," he said.

McKee laid out the delegation's legislative agenda for the session but left much of the decision-making for future meetings.

The delegation also postponed a vote on increasing Washington County's marriage license fee from $60 to $75 to raise money for CASA.

Some lawmakers worry that raising the fee will not accomplish that goal because people will simply get married in neighboring counties to avoid the higher fee.

Some other legislative issues the delegation will address this session are:

- A bill allowing Prime Outlets at Hagerstown to hold sidewalk sales and exhibitions. The law only permits them at enclosed malls such as Valley Mall.

- Raises for the Washington County Election Board and election judges. A bill to increase the judges' salaries died last year when a technical difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill could not be worked out before midnight on the final day of the session.

- A proposal by the Washington County Restaurant and Beverage Association to increase the number of liquor board members from three to five.

- A proposal by the liquor board to grant caterers a special liquor license.

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