2013 session of Maryland General Assembly productive for Washington County
Results of Local Bills (By Chad Trovinger/Graphic Artist / April 20, 2013)
The county also got a $1.55 million share of a wealth-based grant called the disparity grant for fiscal year 2014.
Getting the grant money was one of the top priorities for the delegation during the session, which ended earlier this month.
The disparity grant money comes to the county through the budget process, with delegation members trying various strategies to ensure money for the county.
State Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington and Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, were able to get money for some repair and renovation projects in the county.
Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, and state Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, sponsored successful legislation that would give some correctional officers credit for accumulated sick leave at retirement.
Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, and Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, were the primary sponsors of one bill each that were approved by both legislative chambers.
As in 2012, about a quarter of the bills — including duplicate versions of bills in the House and the Senate, but excluding bills dealing only with other counties — submitted by the local delegation passed.
The county delegation filed nine bills and five of them passed. One was withdrawn and there was no action on three of them, according to the General Assembly’s website.
Bills that passed easily included a $60 million bond authorization bill to fund the county’s Capital Improvement Plan through fiscal year 2018 and a bill that would let the county enter into PILOT agreements with technology-related companies to let them make payments in lieu of personal property taxes.
Another successful piece of legislation from the delegation would let the county appoint municipal law enforcement officers as special sheriff’s deputies in some circumstances for more effective enforcement.
A House committee took no action on a delegation bill that would let a county board of education begin its fall high school sports practice season up to two weeks earlier than the date set by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
A delegation bill that would alter electioneering boundaries to 50 feet from the entrance and exit of a polling station from the current 100 feet was withdrawn after opposition from the Washington County Board of Elections.
But delegation members stressed that counting the number of bills that passed or failed is a less than ideal way of measuring the success or failure of a legislator.
“When a legislator is able to point out serious flaws with a bad bill and it is killed, some would say that is better than passing a bill. Many point to the work in taking care of particular problems for constituents as the most important work of an elected official,” Serafini said in an email. “There are many factors to consider but whether one passes bills or not in my opinion does very little to reflect the overall performance of the elected official.”
Shank said that sometimes, bills are put in to start a discussion around an issue.
“A count ... it is not the best way to measure how effective a legislator is ...” he said.
Donoghue mentioned a lot of behind-the-scenes “legwork” that a legislator has to do.
“I’m not quite sure it is easy to give a grade on the total picture,” he said.