County coalition lobbies in Annapolis

February 16, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • James F. Kercheval, executive director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee, talks to the Washington County delegation in Annapolis Wednesday. A Washington County lobbying coalition spent the day talking to state officials. Brien J. Poffenberger, the president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, is seated at the desk near Kercheval.
By Andrew Schotz, Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS — A lobbying group from Washington County spent Wednesday in Annapolis, promoting its legislative agenda with state officials.

The coalition is composed of government and community advocates who jointly pursue issues of local importance during the annual 90-day Maryland General Assembly session.

This year's agenda includes road projects on Eastern Boulevard and U.S. 340 at Keep Tryst Road, University System of Maryland at Hagerstown funding and a possible bio-tech/high-tech business park on the Mount Aetna Farms property near Hagerstown Community College.

The coalition also is pushing for a statewide commercial foreclosure database and an economic development infrastructure master plan.

This year, Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, the coalition's hired lobbying firm, set up meetings with officials from various entities, including: the University System of Maryland; the Maryland Department of Transportation; the state Board of Revenue Estimates; the governor's intergovernmental affairs director; and the state Department of Business and Economic Development.

The group also talked with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

Brien J. Poffenberger, the president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said at the end of the day that the meetings were productive, and state officials were receptive to the coalition's messages.

Although there's money attached to some of the coalition's priorities, and the state is struggling to fix its budget deficit, the discussions still were worthwhile, Poffenberger said.

He said the coalition was praised for its collaborative approach to lobbying in Annapolis.

"Over and over, we heard this is a great way to interact," he said.

The coalition includes Washington County government, the city of Hagerstown, the Washington County Board of Education, Washington County Free Library, the chamber of commerce, the Greater Hagerstown Committee, the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Hagerstown Washington County Industrial Foundation, known as CHIEF.

About 30 people with the coalition traveled to Annapolis.

In the morning, the coalition group joined with about 30 people from the Leadership Washington County program during a meeting with members of the Washington County delegation.

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