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Annapolis Notes

February 08, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

People magazine contacts Munson

People magazine has contacted Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, asking for an interview.

Munson's office was contacted by phone last week and staff from People said they wanted to discuss a bill he filed in the Maryland General Assembly. The bill would prohibit a person from buying or offering to buy a child, and make it a punishable offense to do either.

Munson said Thursday that he returned the phone call to People and was waiting to hear back.

Facebook banned from General Assembly computers

The social networking Web site Facebook has been banned from Maryland General Assembly computers -- a decision that was blamed on computer viruses, according to Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

Three members of Washington County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly have Facebook accounts: Shank, Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, and Del. Richard B. Weldon, who is unaffiliated and represents parts of Frederick and Washington counties.

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Another social networking site, MySpace, also was banned.

"This just cannot stand," Shank said.

He said Democrats and Republicans should respond together against the decision to ban the sites from the computers of legislators and their staffs.

"This is a very vibrant tool to correspond with our constituents," Shank said.

He called the memo sent by the Office of Legislative Information Systems "incomprehensible," and said there are more than 40 members of the House of Delegates with Facebook sites.

"I'd liken it to 30 years ago in the General Assembly if there were a few glitches in the telephone system ... and it was shut down," Shank said.

He said there has been some speculation about the timing of the notice from the Office of Legislative Information Systems, which came just about one week after the General Assembly's Republican Caucus created a Facebook page.

Shank said those rumors are likely not true.

"I think it has everything to do with an inept and visionless Office of Information Systems," he said.

Donoghue bill to be withdrawn

After a request by Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, filed a bill last week that would allow someone unhappy with a decision of a historic district commission or historic preservation commission to appeal the decision to the local governing body, Donoghue said.

However, the bill will be withdrawn after the Hagerstown City Council voted last week against a proposal that would have weakened the power of the city's Historic District Commission.

The city proposal would have changed the way the commission's decisions are appealed. Appeals currently are heard in Washington County Circuit Court. The proposal would have shifted the appeal process to the Hagerstown Board of Zoning Appeals.

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