County's legislative work mostly wrapped up, budget isn't as session draws to close

April 08, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — As the Maryland General Assembly’s session nears an end, much of Washington County’s business has been sewn up.

The county delegation’s signature bill — establishing stricter financial accountability for the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association — has been approved.

Earlier in the session, the delegation abandoned a proposal to let volunteer fire and rescue companies bill for their services.

The legislature’s 90-day session is scheduled to be over when the clock strikes midnight Monday — although the session could be extended if the House and Senate haven’t agreed on final details on the fiscal year 2013 budget.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, to impose a stricter maximum penalty for fatal child abuse passed after he agreed to a compromise.

A few other Shank-sponsored bills had passed as of Friday, including one that lets sheriffs and deputies in Washington County practice law in another county and one that requires school districts to establish policies on administering epinephrine when students have potentially fatal allergies.

The only two Washington County legislative requests for capital-budget money tentatively have been granted, one partly and one fully.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, asked for $40,000 for a Korean War veterans monument in Hagerstown.

Sen. George C. Edwards’ request for $320,000 for C&O Canal National Historical Park projects in Williamsport was cut to $175,000, then added to the capital budget.

The legislature has yet to sign off on the final capital budget containing those two requests.

A legislative battle between Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, and Del. Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany, apparently is over.

Myers filed two bills to help students in the Little Orleans area of Allegany County continue attending school in Hancock in Washington County, against the wishes of Allegany County school officials and Kelly. Myers’ two bills withered when the House Ways and Means Committee took no action.

Sen. Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, sponsored nearly three dozens bills this session, including some pertaining only to Frederick County.

One Young bill that has passed prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting employees or job applicants to disclose electronic passwords, such as for social media sites.

Another Young bill, forcing political subdivisions to inspect balconies at least every five years, narrowly failed on the Senate floor. The bill was named in memory of a family friend’s son, who died in Massachusetts after a balcony collapsed.

Washington County went through its nearly annual scare on University System of Maryland at Hagerstown funding. Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., D-St. Mary’s, tried this year, through legislation, to redirect USMH funding and help a non-USM center in his area.

USMH ultimately was protected, though, when an agreement was reached to help non-USM centers and leave USM centers alone.

Many of the more than 90 bills filed by Washington County delegation members are still pending, but only some appear to have a chance of passing, based on the ground they’ve covered, such as:

  • a proposal by Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, to get an income-tax  modification for canceled credit-card debt
  • a bill cross-filed by Shank and the delegation to expand the definition of an “amusement” device and deduct the cost of a gaming sticker from gross profits for tip jars
  • Young’s proposal to require public works projects to have American manufactured goods.

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