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Washington County officials prioritize items to consider during 2012 General Assembly

November 29, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Assistant Attorney Kirk C. Downey, right, spoke with members of the Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday about the county's needs in the upcoming 2012 legislative session. Looking on is Washington County Attorney John M. Martirano.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The Washington County Board of Commissioners will probably ask for only two bills to be introduced in the 2012 session of the Maryland General Assembly that begins in January, officials said Tuesday.

The commissioners said they plan to request bills:

• Clarifying the standards for distributing gaming money to the county’s fire and rescue companies. A series of Herald-Mail stories has raised questions about the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association’s role in distributing tip-jar proceeds.

• Clarifying that the town of Williamsport would not share in payments in lieu of taxes connected to power-generation facilities that aren’t in the town.

The county’s agenda also includes five “requests for support of other initiatives,” broader issues for which Washington County might work with other counties to seek changes.

The final four items are grouped as “awareness/watch items,” which Washington County’s delegation will be asked to monitor.

Assistant County Attorney Kirk C. Downey presented the list Tuesday during a commissioners meeting.

The items in the “support” category are:

• Reduce the number of newly created jobs required to qualify for a Businesses That Create New Jobs Tax Credit.

• Change the definition of a “qualified distressed county,” so businesses in Washington County could qualify for a One Maryland Tax Credit.

• Seek legislation or a change in court foreclosure rules to designate one person who would be responsible for the condition of a property during foreclosure.

• Change the law so plain-clothes police officers in unmarked vehicles could charge drivers with fleeing and eluding.

• Let old warrants that are unlikely to be served be removed from a database, instead of requiring that those warrants be validated annually.

Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham urged Washington County to have a plan for lobbying for the “support” category items, especially if other counties will be enlisted to help.

Downey said members of the delegation could recommend a plan.

The items in the “awareness/watch” category are:

• Watch for areas where the state might shift liabilities to local governments, such as for teacher pensions and transportation costs.

• Consider the implications of PlanMaryland, a statewide growth and preservation plan.

• Consider any changes to a set of laws concerning planning and zoning.

• Watch for restrictions on septic system in rural areas.

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