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Annapolis Notes - March 19

March 18, 2012

Sign compromise ‘better than nothing’

ANNAPOLIS — Peter W. Anderson will be allowed, after all, to have a roadside sign directing people to his pet-cremation business — but not the sign he wants.

The business, Agape Pet Services, is set back in the woods from Md. 34, between Boonsboro and Keedysville. Anderson said he needs a sign near the road to let customers know they’ve reached the business.

The problem is that the state doesn’t allow private signs in the right of way — which, in this case, extended 150 feet from the road.

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Agape Pet Services’ situation sparked Sen.Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, to file a bill to let the state grant permits for certain signs in a right of way. Del. Andrew A. Serafini cross-filed a House version.

The bills were withdrawn, though, when the state agreed to work on a compromise.

State Highway Administration spokeswoman Kellie Boulware said the business will be allowed to put up, at a private driveway, a sign similar to the type used to denote public and private roads. The business will pay for the sign.

Agape Pet Services will have to take down its current business sign by the road.

“It’s better than nothing,” Anderson said.


Raises either way

Faced with a proposed increase to judges’ salaries last week, delegates essentially had two choices: raises or higher raises.

A joint resolution was based on recommendations by the state’s Judicial Compensation Commission, which reviews judicial salaries and pensions every four years.

The recommendations automatically go into effect if the General Assembly doesn’t adopt or amend them within 50 days after a measure is formally introduced.

The Senate cut the $14 million that would have been needed for the recommended phased-in raises to about $6.8 million before passing the measure and sending it to the House.

On Tuesday, as the 50-day mark neared, the House voted on the final salary-raise package.
Republicans tried to cut the raises further, forcing the bill to go back to the Senate for another vote.

But even Democrats against the pay raises acknowledged that not voting for the measure likely would allow larger raises to automatically take effect.

A 84-47 vote passing the resolution was largely along party lines.

But Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, didn’t go along with the GOP protest movement and voted “yes.”

“They put us in a corner,” he said, noting the risk of adding another $7.2 million to the cost of the raises.

In the Washington County delegation, Republicans Andrew A. Serafini, Neil C. Parrott and Michael J. Hough voted against the joint resolution, and Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, voted for it.

The Senate previously voted 33-9 in favor of the measure with lower raises. Sens.George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, voted “yes.” Sens.Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, andRonald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, voted “no.”

— Andrew Schotz

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