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Gov. Ehrlich signs 11 local delegation bills into law

April 28, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Among the more than 150 bills Gov. Robert Ehrlich signed into law Tuesday, 11 were Washington County initiatives.

Thanks to one approved bill, Washington County government will be able to borrow about $75 million in general obligation bonds over four years, starting June 1.

That was about $25 million more than the county originally requested. Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook has said $20 million of the extra debt will finance a runway extension project at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Other signed bills deal with selling tip jars, penalizing drivers who illegally pass school buses, tracking convicts through global positioning systems, and issuing licenses for wine-tasting events.

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Among other things, the tip jar bill, sponsored by the Washington County Delegation, prohibits groups from being both operators and wholesalers. It also goes into effect June 1.

The Washington County Restaurant and Beverage Association, which wanted to become a wholesaler, opposed the legislation.

Supporters said the separation is necessary because wholesalers' and operators' records must be compared for accounting.

A bill sponsored by Sen. John J. Hafer, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, increases the maximum fine to $1,000 for motorists who fail to stop when a school bus has its red lights flashing. The maximum fine had been $500. The bill takes effect Oct. 1.

Another bill establishes a task force to study how to use global positioning technology to monitor criminals and solve crimes. Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, sponsored the bill in the House and Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, was the senate sponsor.

The bill takes effect July 1.

A second Munson bill, which takes effect July 1, ensures that the state will continue to grant restricted licenses to drivers with poor but adequate eyesight.

Another local delegation bill authorizes special wine-tasting licenses for alcoholic beverage license holders. The bill takes effect June 1.

In a separate delegation bill, the Washington County Board of License Commissioners, known as the Liquor Board, won't issue alcohol licenses unless the applicant has paid all outstanding proceeds, payments and fines. That provision takes effect Oct. 1.

A delegation bill requiring every deputy clerk or sheriff in Washington County to take and sign the oath or affirmation set in the state constitution goes into effect June 1.

Hafer, along with Sen. Andrew P. Harris, R-Baltimore/Harford, sponsored a bill that includes former stepchildren and former stepparents among those eligible for inheritance tax exemptions. The change takes effect July 1.

A bill sponsored by Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, allows school buses with passengers to travel as fast as the speed limit provides, instead of a maximum of 50 mph. It goes into effect Oct. 1.

A bill by Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, amends a section of the state's Uniform Commercial Code pertaining to electronic transactions and documents of title. The bill takes effect Oct. 1.

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