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Lawmakers to seek bond bills ban

January 21, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- Washington County delegation members will ask Maryland leaders in the General Assembly to consider eliminating bond bills this year due to the state's budget limitations.

A bond bill is state money for a capital project. Each year, there is a pool of money for local government requests.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley included about $15 million for bond bills in his proposed capital budget announced Wednesday.

Washington County delegation members said they had not formally requested any bond bills yet, but Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he has received several requests for funding, including about $150,000 for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts and $100,000 for the Doleman Black Heritage Center in Hagerstown.

"I think when we have people who are going to be laid off ... furloughed, and we don't have money to keep these people employed, I think (bond bills) set a bad precedent," said Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany.

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The delegation voted unanimously Wednesday, in its first meeting of the current legislative session of the General Assembly, to write a letter to leadership in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Senate requesting a ban on all bond bills - not just those from Washington County.

"I think leadership has to start with us," Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said of the local delegation.

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

"I think this is a decision that's a leadership decision in the legislature. The speaker and the legislature need to make a decision on whether they're going to do bond bills," Munson said.

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert/Prince George's, has said no decisions have been made about whether O'Malley's proposed bond bill money will be kept in the budget, according to a spokesman for Miller.

Alexandra Hughes, communications/policy advisor for Speaker of the House Del. Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, said the House will consider some different possibilities regarding bond bills in the next few weeks.

It's possible, Hughes said, that priority would be given to bond bills that secure funding for projects that are shovel-ready and that create local jobs.

Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, said leaders agreed not to accept bond bills about six years ago.

Some delegation members agreed that if the General Assembly was going to accept bond bills this year, that Washington County should not be excluded from that funding.

Shank said he strongly opposed bond bills in light of the announced statewide layoffs and other financial problems the state is experiencing.

"I certainly cannot support bond bills this year," Shank said. "In the past, I have supported bond bills. Now, it's the last thing we should be thinking about."

Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr., who is unaffiliated and represents parts of Frederick and Washington counties, said he planned to ask the Frederick County delegation to support a similar stance against bond bills.

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