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House passes massage parlor bill

other local measures stuck

March 12, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Legislation to prevent massage parlors from being used as fronts for prostitution in Washington County passed the Maryland House of Delegates on Tuesday.

But many other bills sponsored by the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly remained mired in legislative quicksand.

Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades asked for stricter regulation of massage parlors because of an investigation last May.

Police raided a Pennsylvania Avenue massage parlor and charged two women with prostitution.

A legitimate massage parlor license was used to open the business.

The legislation would enable the Washington County Commissioners to adopt stricter oversight of massage parlors.

While the bill now heads to the Senate, many local bills are still in the House Rules Committee because they were filed late.

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Washington County Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee said he's been talking to House leaders for the last two weeks in an effort to get them assigned to standing committees so public hearings can be scheduled.

The bills must pass the House by March 24 or risk being held up in the Senate.

Among the bills that are still in the Rules Committee is a local tax bill.

Titled the Washington County Growth Management Act, the bill would allow real estate transfers to be taxed up to .5 percent. A tax at that rate would cause closing costs to increase by $750 on a $150,000 house.

It also would allow the county government to charge an excise tax of up to $1 per square foot on new construction.

Both taxes would raise an estimated $5 million, mainly for public schools.

It's highly unusual for local bills to stay in the Rules Committee for that long.

McKee said no one has been able to tell him for sure why the bills are stuck.

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