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Ehrlich signs a flurry of bills

April 13, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Robert Ehrlich wasted no time in finalizing the first batch of bills approved by the Maryland General Assembly, conducting the first bill-signing ceremony less than 12 hours after the legislative session officially ended.

Ehrlich, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch gathered in the governor's reception room at the Statehouse to sign 91 bills Tuesday morning, including nine for Washington County.

Looking out at the roomful of journalists, bill sponsors and staff, Ehrlich remarked "I have nothing particularly insightful to say," and pressed on with the signing. Like an assembly line, the three leaders quickly passed the bills down the table, handing the pens as souvenirs to the bills' sponsors.

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Among the local bills signed into law Tuesday were bills to:

n Add criminal penalties to the Washington County animal control ordinance.

n Allow the county to regulate alarm systems. The Washington County Sheriff's Department has reported that about 99 percent of alarms turn out to be false.

n Allow the county to enter emergency contracts without going through the bidding process, similar to provisions in the state's procurement law. The county government asked for the bill in part as a result of problems with repairs to the bridge on Broadfording Road. After having to terminate the original contract, the county had to go through a rebidding process before work could be finished.

n Allow the county to regulate licensing and discipline of those engaged in electrical work. The county only licenses electricians now.

n Allow the county to regulate non-noxious weeds above a certain height.

n Authorize the town of Boonsboro to undertake and carry out specified urban renewal projects for slum clearance and redevelopment.

n Raise the Washington County Sheriff's salary to $80,000.

n Raise the salary of the Washington County Board of Education to $5,600 annually for the president and $5,500 for other members.

n Raise the compensation for substitute members of the local Board of Elections to $75 per meeting, and raise the salary of election judges to $175 per day for chief judges and $150 per day for other election judges.

Ehrlich also signed a bill sponsored by Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington, revising qualifications for physical therapists and assistants.

Several other local bills still await the governor's signature.

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