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At forum, Washington County delegation looks back and ahead

May 15, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HALFWAY -- While reviewing the past Maryland General Assembly session Wednesday, some of Washington County's state representatives talked a little about what lies ahead.

Six of the eight county delegation members attended a legislative forum sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce at the Plaza Hotel.

State Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he's convinced the state will fund a new state police barrack in Washington County. The state's fiscal year 2009 capital budget included $14.8 million for the project, but the money was cut - although funding tentatively was approved for fiscal year 2010.

Munson said a battle over the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown budget isn't expected to come up again. As part of a funding compromise, Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., D-St. Mary's - whose subcommittee tried to cut USM-H's budget so other higher education centers could get more money - has promised not to pick the same fight next year, Munson said.

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Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said state funding for a library expansion project in downtown Hagerstown can be considered more closely now that a funding formula has been established.

Funding, though, is "subject to the political pressures of everything going on," he said.

Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, said Washington County could get money through a new fund to pay for expenses connected to the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC).

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown has said he would help the county when it applies for BRAC money, Munson told the audience at Wednesday's forum.

Each year, after the General Assembly's legislative session, the Chamber invites delegation members to speak and answer questions.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, the delegation chairman, said 2009 could be another tough fiscal year if Maryland voters reject a proposal to legalize slot-machine gambling.

Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, who was appointed in the middle of the session after Robert A. McKee resigned, said he learned about the finer points of gaming because of a movement to eliminate slot-style machines.

Washington County's electronic tip-jar dispensing machines were exempted from the regulations.

The county's tip-jar system, which distributes proceeds to nonprofit entities, is considered a model for the state, Serafini said.

Still, Edwards said, the delegation and the county must watch for future attempts to take control of the tip-jar system and the proceeds.

Suzanne Hayes, who moderated the event for the Chamber, asked each delegation member to state his position on the November slots referendum.

Serafini and Myers said they oppose it. Shank told Hayes she should refer to it as a proposed constitutional amendment, then said he opposes it.

Edwards, Munson and Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr., R-Frederick/Washington, said they support the slots proposal.

Who attended the forum



Six Washington County delegation members attended Wednesday's legislative forum:

· Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington

· Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington

· Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany

· Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington

· Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington

· Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr., R-Frederick/Washington

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, and Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, did not attend.

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