Carroll commissioners finalize legislative requests

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners Tuesday compiled its requests for the 2014 Legislative Session -- in advance of a Dec. 10 meeting with the county's state delegation.

Commissioners will request legislation that has been proposed in recent years, such as casino nights for fire departments, while also tackling much discussed issues in Carroll, such as the Common Core State Standards and stormwater requirements, in their 2014 legislative proposals.

Although the commissioners on Tuesday mostly approved bills that have been proposed in recent weeks, Commissioner Haven Shoemaker and Phil Hager, the county's land use, planning, and development director, proposed new pieces of legislation.

Commissioners approved Shoemaker's proposal to raise the salary of Orphan's Court judges from $10,000 to $15,000 for judges and to $16,5000 for the chief judge.

The Orphans' Court is a probate court that presides over cases involving a person's will and estate. When a family member is lost and the will disputed, the case is brought before the court.

Shoemaker said his request was due in part to an increased workload for judges and the fact that the salary had not been raised since the "early 90s."

Commissioners also approved three pieces of proposed legislation from the county department of land use, planning, and development regarding stormwater requirements.

Hager's department has proposed:

• A bill requiring an efficacy analysis for any legislation involving an amendment to the Land Use, Environment, or Natural Resources law to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of a proposal compared to other alternatives

• Two bills barring the state from imposing further stormwater requirements not specified in each jurisdiction’s individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits until the 2017 Midpoint Assessment for Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model Phase 6.0 results and revised allocations are available and provided to local jurisdictions

The board of commissioners also voiced support for stormwater proposals requested by Commissioners President Doug Howard. They include:

• Legislation that would exempt a county from implementing a storm water fee if stormwater projects are planned and funded to comply with MS4 permits, funds are included in the budget with a designated funding source, or a separate fund for these projects is in place and appropriately funded.

• Legislation that would prevent the imposition of any additional storm water requirements until there is a multi-state agreement that puts comparable requirements, demands and corresponding cost on Pennsylvania with regard to bay restoration. Such an agreement must also create a multi-state process to use resources and obtain credit for projects across state lines to meet regional goals and for more optimal approaches to bay restoration.

Bills that have been requested in previous years and will again be presented to the delegation include:

• A bill that would allow charitable organizations, such as the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association (CCVESA), to host casino nights as fundraisers

• A bill that would increase the liquor license fees over three years to provide funding for an additional part-time inspector for underage liquor sales compliance by the county liquor board

Bills proposed by local agencies and approved by the commissioners include:

• A bill to raise the county Sheriff's salary from $75,910 to $90,000 in 2015

• A bill to that would cover the county Industrial Development Authority under the Local Government Tort Claims Act, thus lowering the authority's cost of insurance

• The county's annual public facilities bond request

Finally, commissioners approved three education related proposals put forth by Howard, which include:

• A bill  that would withdraw Maryland as a test state for the Next Generation Science Standards.

• A bill that would Delay Curriculum Implementation & PARCC Assessment: Statewide legislation that would modify the Race to the Top grant to extend the time to implement Common Core standards as well as the corresponding curriculum change and assessments to a more manageable time-frame to be determined by local Boards of Education.

• A bill that would return full responsibility for contributions to the State Teacher Pensions to the state for free necessary funds locally for the mitigation of the impacts of implementing the Common Core.

Bills requested by the commissioners must first be sponsored by a member of the delegation before it is presented in the General Assembly.

The 2014 session convenes in Annapolis Jan. 8.

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