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Annapolis notes 3-24-03

March 25, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

Despite an unexplained procedural delay earlier this legislative session, most of the Washington County Delegation's bills are on track to safely meet an important deadline today.

Most of the local bills, including one that gives local authority for transfer and excise taxes, passed the House of Delegates in time, even though they were stuck in the House Rules Committee for two weeks.

One bill that may not make the deadline would double the maximum grant to $100,000 that the Washington County Gaming Commission can award to one nonprofit applicant.

Four other bills that didn't make the deadline would give state grants to local nonprofits. The fate of those so-called bond bills statewide will be negotiated during budget talks between the House and Senate.

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Any bills that don't pass the House by today are automatically sent to the Senate Rules Committee, giving them an extra hurdle to clear before the session ends April 7.




Mooney votes against new taxing authority


Sen. Alex X. Mooney is often the lone "no" vote in the eight-member Washington County Delegation.

Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee pointed out that fact to the House Ways and Means Committee last week while testifying in favor of giving new local taxing authority to the Washington County Commissioners.

McKee, R-Washington, said the delegation approved the legislation by a 7-1 vote.

The one naysayer "hasn't voted for anything since he's been with us," McKee said.

During the last four-year term, Mooney had a partner in dissent, Del. Joseph R. Bartlett.

Now that Bartlett, R-Frederick, no longer represents Washington County, he has been less apt to disagree with Washington County lawmakers.

On Saturday, he voted in favor of the tax package.




Shank, McKee both have success with bills


Del. Christopher B. Shank and Del. Robert A. McKee are both one-for-three so far this session on their legislative initiatives.

Shank's bill would require Internet service providers to remove child pornography from their systems within five days of a court order.

McKee's would exempt landlords from lead paint risk reduction standards if the outside paint is tested to be lead-free.

Both bills have passed the House. Senate committees are scheduled to hold hearings Wednesday.




Local student getting lesson in politics


A Williamsport High School senior is getting a lesson in politics while serving as a page for the Maryland House of Delegates.

Jereme Leazier, 18, said he's noticed that freshman Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Allegany/Washington, has not yet spoken on the House floor.

Myers is purposely keeping a low profile this year to avoid angering House leaders who are still upset that he ousted former House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., a Democrat.

"(Myers) doesn't have the power that Cas Taylor did, but he's going to be close to the voters," Leazier said.

Myers said he'll be more vocal about his opinions next year, although he believes his strategy has paid off.

People are beginning to notice that there are three Republicans who speak on almost every issue.

Rumor has it that their corner of the House chamber is known as the "Bermuda Triangle."




County leader again tapped by security


Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook remains an inexplicable target of security in Annapolis.

A year ago, guards made him remove his shoes to get past metal detectors in the State House complex.

Last week, he was hounded by a Maryland State Police trooper in the House of Delegates viewing gallery.

Snook was standing by the railing, trying to get the attention of Washington County lawmakers below him on the House floor, when the trooper politely tapped him on the shoulder.

A minute after Snook sat down, the trooper had him remove his coat from the handrail.

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