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County delegation bills released

March 13, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

More than a dozen Washington County delegation bills that had been trapped in legislative limbo were freed Wednesday.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said Democratic leadership was making a point with the delay.

"The message is, 'Don't put bills in late,'" Donoghue said.

But Republican lawmakers said late-filed bills from other counties did not run into any problems.

Thirteen Washington County bills were stuck in the House Rules Committee, some for as long as two weeks, with a March 24 deadline approaching.

Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, talked to legislative leaders daily about getting the bills assigned to standing committees so public hearings could be scheduled.

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"I've done my job down here. It's kind of a tradition that a delegation bill comes out," he said.

A local tax bill was among the bills recently released.

The Washington County Growth Management Act would allow real estate transfers to be taxed up to .5 percent.

A tax at that rate would increase closing costs by $750 on a $150,000 house.

A hearing is scheduled for March 19 in the House Ways and Means Committee.

On the same day, four bills to give grants to local nonprofits will get hearings now that they have been allowed to move through the legislative process.

However, the fate of all legislative grants statewide is up in the air because of the state's budget crunch.

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