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Annapolis Notes

January 25, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Serafini on Environmental Matters committee

Several members of Washington County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly have swapped committees this year -- some by choice and some by request.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, and Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, learned early on that they would be placed on the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee. Committee changes were made at the direction of Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel. About 12 lawmakers switched committees this year.

However, while Myers and Shank knew where they would serve, Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, only knew that he would be removed from Ways and Means. He did not know until last week that he would go to the Environmental Matters Committee.

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"I would go wherever the Speaker sent me," Serafini said. "It's good experience to be on the different committees. Hopefully I'll be able to serve the local community and be a voice to those who would be impacted."

Donoghue to give up leadership role in local delegation

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said he plans to give up his role as vice chairman of Washington County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

Donoghue said he will ask during the delegation's weekly meeting Wednesday that he be replaced by Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, the delegation's newest member.

"I think that Andrew Serafini would be a great vice chairman of our delegation, and I'd like to see him have a position in the delegation," Donoghue said. "I think he would add quite a bit to the makeup of the delegation in terms of going to different people when we need some help."

Donoghue said he has held several leadership roles in the 19 years he has represented Washington County.

"I think it's only fair to spread the leadership around," he said.

Williamsport could withdraw request for bond bill

The Town of Williamsport is likely to withdraw its request for a $150,000 bond bill for improvements to the Springfield Barn, according to Mayor James G. McCleaf II.

The town requested that Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, make the request for state money during the current General Assembly session.

The town received a similar bond bill during last year's legislative session, but voted about two months ago not to use it. McCleaf said there were certain restrictions placed on the money that would have made the project too costly for the town to pursue.

McCleaf said the town requested that Munson ask for the $150,000 bond bill before rejecting the previous bond bill.

"At this point, with the state of the economy, it's probably not a good idea," McCleaf said.

He said the council had hoped to add an extension to its town museum, which is housed at Springfield Barn. In order to hold events at the barn, the structure would need to be outfitted with fire sprinklers.

The total cost of those improvements would be about $250,000, McCleaf said.

Local Family Network advocates for change in language

Lolita Spangler and Kathleen Phillips, both family navigators in the Washington County office of the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health, were in Annapolis last week advocating for a change in the way students with emotional disturbances are labeled.

Phillips said they support a bill currently filed in the House of Delegates that would change "emotional disturbance" to "emotional or behavioral disability."

"There's a huge stigma for emotional disturbance," Phillips said. "We want to make the language more acceptable language."

Phillips said the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health also will be supporting a similar bill called the "Student Stigma Bill."

"What we're trying to do is to change the federal language for the special-education law for disabilities for education," she said.

Phillips and Spangler were in Annapolis Wednesday for a legislative breakfast to advocate on behalf of their bill.

They met with Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, and Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington. They also met with an aide to Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

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