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Delegation to pursue bills on alcohol and debt collection

February 01, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County's state representatives agreed Wednesday to pursue two alcohol-enforcement bills and a bill to help housing authorities collect unpaid debts.

A bill requested by the Washington County Board of License Commissioners, or liquor board, would require anyone who serves alcohol - such as bartenders, restaurant wait staff and store clerks - to receive training.

A state law now requires only a liquor license holder or a designated employee to get training.

The liquor board, on its own, requires training, but a state law, pertaining to Washington County, would strengthen that effort, Chairman Robert L. Everhart said.

A second bill would let the board find out and take action against a liquor license holder after an employee is charged with selling alcohol to a minor.

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Everhart said the board currently cannot find out about cases if an offender gets probation before judgment in court. One possibility, he said, is having police not file charges in those cases, keeping them out of court.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore agreed that police can decide against charging someone who breaks a law, although that hasn't happened in cases of illegal alcohol sales to minors.

"Discretion is always an option," he said.

Everhart said the second bill lets the liquor board find out about cases even if an offender gets probation before judgment.

Seven county delegation members unanimously approved filing the alcohol-training bill. Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, was absent.

The delegation voted 6-1 to pursue a bill to let the liquor board find out about all illegal alcohol sales.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, voted no. He said the liquor board's intent is "admirable," but the proposal goes against the privacy aspect of probation before judgment.

Delegation members also voted 7-0 to pursue a bill requested by Richard Willson, executive director of the Housing Authority of Washington County.

Willson proposed letting a state agency intercept income-tax refunds of former tenants who owe money to the housing authorities in Washington County.

He said seven families who used to rent through the county housing authority owe a total of about $10,000.

The problem is bigger for the Hagerstown Housing Authority, which is owed about $120,000 a year from former tenants, either from rent or damage to apartments, Executive Director Ted Shankle said in a phone interview.

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