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Annapolis notes 2/25

February 25, 2002

A Republican operative caused a stir last week when he brought a digital video camera to a meeting between Washington County lawmakers and local business leaders.

Vince Dellaposta recorded some comments made by Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, and took still pictures of some of the businesspeople at the meeting.

Hecht didn't notice the taping, but was told about it later by some of her Republican colleagues in the legislature.

"I thought, 'That's outrageous,'" she said.

Dellaposta said he doesn't plan to make the tape public or give it to anyone, except Hecht if she wishes. Dellaposta is running the campaign of Republican Vikki Nelson for delegate, but she isn't facing Hecht.

"She should be enough of a politician to realize she can be taped," Dellaposta said of Hecht.

Hecht said she didn't like the fact that she was singled out in the group of five other lawmakers at the meeting but agreed to give Dellaposta the benefit of the doubt.

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"I'll take him at his word and we'll see what happens," she said.




Commissioner salary increase discussed

The chairman of the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee seemed surprised last week by a request to increase the salaries of Washington County Commissioners from $20,000 to $30,000.

"All the money's out west. Must be the tip jars they got out there," said Del. John F. Wood Jr., D-St. Mary's/Calvert.

"Yes sir," said Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington.

The salary hike, which would go into effect after the November election, is likely to pass the legislature this year because of the General Assembly's practice of giving courtesy to local bills.




Hecht, Shank agree to swap floor votes

Two local lawmakers agreed to swap votes last week on the floor of the House of Delegates.

After session ended, Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, was explaining the merits of his bill to allow kennels on protected farmland to Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, whose committee is reviewing the idea.

Hecht then brought up her bill in Shank's committee, which would allow low-emission vehicles in high- occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes.

Shank said he would vote for her bill if she would vote for his. With that, the two lawmakers shook hands on the deal.

The kennel bill could be in trouble because it's being opposed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Dogs and cats are not considered agricultural animals and therefore kennels should not be allowed on farmland protected by preservation easements, Director of Administration Doug Wilson testified at a hearing last week.

Shank argued cats and dogs have been part of agriculture as long as people have been farming.




Lawmaker calls bears 'gentle' creatures

A Montgomery County lawmaker who argued last week against killing nuisance bears called the creatures "gentle."

Del. Sharon Grosfeld, a Democrat, said most people are startled and frightened when they see bears because they don't know enough about them.

"They are actually quite gentle," she said.

The House ended up passing the bear legislation, which allows people to get a permit to shoot a nuisance bear, by a vote of 102-32. The bill now moves to the Senate.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, introduced legislation because of a growing bear population in Allegany and Garrett counties.




Farm trucks can't carry agriculture tags

Farm trucks, ironically, aren't eligible for Maryland's "ag tags," which raise money for agricultural education.

But a bill sponsored by Del. Katherine Klausmeier, D-Baltimore, would rectify that. It was approved last week by the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee.

Klausmeier said her husband, a farmer, discovered the glitch in the law.

The state has sold 26,000 of the tags so far, making them just as popular as the Chesapeake Bay plate, said Gail Moran of the Motor Vehicle Administration.

- Laura Ernde

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