Annapolis Notes - April 18

April 18, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |

ANNAPOLIS — The final countdown, and beyond

During the annual Maryland General Assembly session, the firmest deadline is the last one. When 90 days are up, the session adjourns — Sine Die, as it is known — unless an extension is approved.

The final day often is hectic, as bottled-up bills are uncorked and zip their way through committees and chambers before the day is over.

This year, in the final hour, the House of Delegates appeared content to coast into the recess.

With 45 minutes left, and major legislation out of the way, House Speaker Michael E. Busch was introducing people of note and thanking specific leaders in both parties, a sign that the body’s work was essentially done.

But, a couple of minutes before midnight, someone decided that the House should try to pass at least one more bill. Busch was game, and called for the next bill, which was about the property tax system in Frederick County.

To take a final vote on the bill required a two-thirds vote of the House, which the chamber hastily did. Next, as the clock showed midnight, the House voted on and passed the bill.

Another bill, someone suggested. Busch called for one more.

This bill would increase the salary for members of the St. Mary’s County Board of Elections.

The House agreed again to suspend the rules for a final vote.

The clock struck 12:01 a.m., but the House went ahead with its last vote and passed the bill.

Or so it seemed.

Alas, that very last push was nullified. The approval of the bill didn’t count, according to the General Assembly’s website, where evidence of the actions on the St. Mary’s bill has been stricken from a record of the proceedings.

Luring Hollywood to Maryland


The Maryland General Assembly has decided to make it more appealing to make a film here.

On the final day of the session, the two chambers agreed on a bill that creates a tax-credit fund for films and TV productions in which more than $500,000 is spent in Maryland.

The fund was proposed at $15 million, but that was cut to $7.5 million in the version that was approved.

The new program will replace an existing $1 million Film Production Rebate Program.

This was good news for Thomas B. Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Riford is on the board of directors of the Maryland Film Industry Coalition and is chairman of the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations.

The film tax-credit bill is one of several bills for which he testified this session, he wrote in an email.

“This was a solid victory for tourism and for the film industry,” Riford wrote.

Editor's note: This column was edited April 25, 2011, to correct the name of the organization of which Thomas B. Riford is president and CEO.

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