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Washington County to kick in for lobbyist

November 28, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-1 to contribute $10,000 to a local lobbying coalition headed by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Commissioner William J. Wivell voted against the contribution, saying he has never been in favor of governments lobbying other governments.

Every year, the coalition puts together a list of priorities and hires a lobbyist to pursue those priorities in Annapolis during the Maryland General Assembly's regular session.

This year's agenda includes:

· State funding for the expansion of the Western Maryland Library

· A change to standards and state funding allowing vacant buildings to be used as public facilities

· Funding for Hagerstown Community College's Capital Improvement Plan budget

· Inclusion of Washington County in state-level Base Realignment and Closure discussions

Chamber of Commerce President Brien J. Poffenberger said the lobbying effort, which began in 2005, gives Washington County a voice during the General Assembly's session. He said it also acts as an early warning system to identify "threats," such as a recently introduced bill that would have shifted control of tip jar gaming from Washington County to the state.

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"We heard about it within 45 minutes and were able to get in front of the commissioners immediately," Poffenberger said.

The lobbying coalition includes the county, the City of Hagerstown, the Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Hagerstown Committee, the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, Washington County Free Library and Washington County Public Schools. All members except the city have contributed money to the effort.

Last year, the school system discussed hiring its own lobbyist to help get more school construction money from the state but did not do so.

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