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Greater Hagerstown pushing its own legislative agenda

February 16, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Members of the Greater Hagerstown Committee paid a visit to the capital Wednesday, visiting with local lawmakers and others to push a four-point agenda.

Along with the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation and the Washington County Commissioners, the group has enlisted the aid of a lobbyist.

Mike Johansen of the firm Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver will press for money for improvements to the Edgewood Drive-Dual Highway intersection, a homeland security grant for the county's communication system, money to upgrade local water and sewer plants, and to protect the county's charitable gaming activities from encroachment by the state.

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Members met Wednesday with the Washington County Delegation seeking advice on how to proceed.

"Our approach was to try to complement the good work you are doing," Greater Hagerstown Chairman Thomas Newcomer told the legislators before presenting the group's agenda. "Are these things you want us to talk to people about?"

The lawmakers thanked the group for their help.

"We're legislators; we don't have time to be lobbyists," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Delegation Chairman Christopher B. Shank told the group he'd like their help on medical malpractice legislation he's proposing, but added, "you need to determine your own vision."

And Johansen was already giving them some direction. Before meeting with the delegation, they'd already had a conversation with Sen. James E. DeGrange, R-Anne Arundel, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on public safety, transportation and environment.

Afterward, they had a whole day of introductions and meetings planned.

Each of the four groups Johansen is representing is paying $3,000 for his services.

Specifically, they're seeking:

  • $8 million in state money for the Edgewood Drive intersection

  • Homeland security grants for a Western Maryland emergency radio system that will connect with the rest of the state, and Pennsylvania and West Virginia

  • Full funding for biological nutrient removal systems for local treatment plants

  • Resistance to any effort for statewide regulation of charitable gaming
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