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Annapolis notes 1/28

January 28, 2002

Annapolis notes 1/28



ANNAPOLIS - Gregory I. Snook: Washington County Commissioner or alleged shoe bomber?

Security at the state capitol is so tight that Snook was asked to remove his shoes before visiting Sen. Donald F. Munson at the Maryland Senate Office Building last week.

That upset Munson, R-Washington, who complained to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Prince George's.

"I don't think that's right. Security has gone overboard," Munson said.

Bill would keep school buses on road longer


ANNAPOLIS - Sen. Alex X. Mooney says well-maintained school buses should be allowed to stay on the road longer.

School buses must be taken out of service after 12 years unless a driver gets special permission from the State Superintendent of Schools.

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The approval process is difficult and time-consuming, Mooney said.

Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, introduced a bill this session to make it easier to get that approval as long as the buses have been well maintained.

Donoghue won't back off on senior drug plan


ANNAPOLIS - A Washington County lawmaker says state officials will make sure the senior prescription drug plan they created last year will continue through the middle of next year as planned.

At a briefing last week, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, learned that the money to pay for the program is up in the air. But Donoghue, who chairs a health insurance subcommittee, said he believes the legislature will come up with a solution.

"At this point it's not a problem," he said.

More than 900 Washington County residents have enrolled in the plan. For a $10 monthly premium, eligible seniors can receive up to $1,000 a year in prescription drug benefits.

The program is open to individual senior citizens who make less than $25,770 or couples who make less than $34,830. It's also open to some disabled people who qualify for Medicare.

Powerball bill gets support in Senate


ANNAPOLIS - A bill that would allow the Maryland Lottery to join the Powerball drawing got tentative approval from the Senate last week, but not without some debate.

Some senators were concerned that the legislation gives too much power to the lottery to join any multijurisdictional game it chooses.

But Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Thomas Bromwell, D-Baltimore, said the legislature will still have final say over a specific game.

The Senate gave preliminary approval on a vote of 37-10. Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, voted for the bill and Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, voted against it.

Mayor worried about representation


KEEDYSVILLE - Still feeling left out under the proposed state legislative redistricting proposal, Sharpsburg Mayor Sid Gale recently asked the Washington County Commissioners for support.

"I see us sort of not having representation unless we have influence through you," Gale told the Commissioners last Tuesday at the Keedysville Town Library for the towns' tax rebate meeting.

Under the redistricting proposal, Sharpsburg residents will probably be represented by a lawmaker living in southern Frederick County.

Commissioners said three Frederick County lawmakers have done a good job representing the Smithsburg area even though they don't live in the county.

Commissioner Paul Swartz said Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, and Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, are strong spokeswomen for Washington County. The third representative is Del. Joseph R. Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington.

"I'm not going to give Joe an 'A+,' but not an 'F' either. I think the state did that," Swartz said.

Swartz was referring to an "insiders" survey conducted by a weekly Washington, D.C., area newspaper to gauge the effectiveness of lawmakers that ranked Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington, last among 138 delegates.

The newspaper cautioned the poll was not scientific, but done "for fun and to spark debate."

- Laura Ernde and Julie E. Greene, staff writers

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