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Drug task force can make secret purchases

March 29, 2001

Drug task force can make secret purchases



By LAURA ERNDE / laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - A bill to let Washington County police agencies make secret purchases for undercover investigations passed the Maryland General Assembly on Thursday.

It was the first county bill to pass both chambers this session. Nine other Washington County bills have passed the House of Delegates and are awaiting Senate approval before the session ends April 9.

"We're where we should be. We're all right," said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

The bill that unanimously passed the Senate Thursday allows the Washington County Sheriff's Office, State's Attorney's Office and Narcotics Task Force to buy products and services without publicly advertising for bids. The law is intended to protect the secrecy of undercover investigations.

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Right now, investigators must seek bids for purchases of more than $25,000.

These local bills have passed the House:

- HB 580 allows Prime Outlets at Hagerstown to hold the same type of sidewalk exhibitions as Valley Mall.

- HB 584 authorizes the Washington County Commissioners to offer a property tax credit to fire and rescue volunteers.

- HB 585 closes a liquor law loophole that allowed the inmate population at the state prison complex south of Hagerstown to count toward new liquor licenses.

- HB 608 increases the number of liquor board members from three to five.

- HB 672 increases Washington County's marriage license fee from $60 to $60 to bring in more money for the local women's shelter run by Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused.

- HB 719 allows the Washington County Commissioners to set up a Rainy Day Fund for tough economic times.

- HB 746 increases the salaries of Washington County Board of Elections members and judges.

- HB 881 lets the Washington County Commissioners have some of the hotel tax revenues to pay for advertising and legal fees associated with collecting the 6 percent tax.

- HB 1179 increases the Washington County Sheriff's salary from $55,000 to $67,500 in January 2003, after the next election.

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