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As session nears end, county bills progressing

April 06, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — As he agreed on Wednesday to step down as Washington County delegation chairman, Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. noted that all five delegation bills this year are moving through both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.

The journey isn't complete for the entire package, but three bills have been approved by both chambers and are awaiting Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature, including:

  • Adding Washington County to the list of counties that may issue a micro-brewery license
  • Repealing the requirement that the county make an annual $500,000 contribution to a water and sewer debt-reduction fund because it is paying the debt on its own
  • Establishing a special wine festival license for up to two weekends a year in the county.

Another bill, related to the composition of the Washington County Board of Elections, was first filed by Sen. Christopher B. Shank. The delegation decided later to file a House version of the bill.

Currently, the board is made up of three full members and two alternates, who, like full members, attend monthly meetings and do some of the same tasks, such as training poll workers.

The bill — which the elections board opposes — would elevate the alternate members to full members and would let the Washington County Board of Commissioners set the board's pay.

The Senate version of the bill has passed the Senate and was preliminarily approved by the House. A final House vote is expected soon.

The House version of the bill has cleared the House and was approved by a Senate committee, making it also close to final approval.

Only one version has to pass both chambers in an identical form by Monday's adjournment date for it be sent to the governor for enactment.

The last delegation bill requires the Washington County liquor board to research the criminal record of applicants for new alcoholic beverages licenses or for the transfer of an existing license.

As of Wednesday, the House version, sponsored by the delegation, had passed the House and was still in committee in the Senate.

However, the Senate version of the bill had cleared the Senate and had been approved by a House committee. It is scheduled to reach the House floor Thursday. After that, a final vote will be taken.

In the past, the delegation has had a busier workload. This year, however, the county commissioners only asked for one bill, the water and sewer debt-reduction measure.

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