From left, state Sen. Katie Fry Hester, D-District 9; Republican District 9A Dels. Trent Kittleman and Warren Miller; and District 5 Republicans Del. Susan Krebs, state Sen. Justin Ready, and Dels. Haven Shoemaker and April Rose.
From left, state Sen. Katie Fry Hester, D-District 9; Republican District 9A Dels. Trent Kittleman and Warren Miller; and District 5 Republicans Del. Susan Krebs, state Sen. Justin Ready, and Dels. Haven Shoemaker and April Rose. (Alex Mann / Carroll County Times)

The delegation of lawmakers representing Carroll County in the Maryland General Assembly met Thursday in Annapolis to vote on legislation that would ask for state funds to build a turf field at the former North Carroll High School, among other locally focused bills

Carroll’s state senators and delegates debated the scope of the bill, whether it should leave the door open for more or less discretion for the Board of County Commissioners.


Also on Thursday, the delegation voted to support bills that would seek state money for local projects, adjust local liquor laws, and adjust some gaming and gambling rules.

At the meeting were state Sens. Justin Ready, R-District 5, and Katie Fry Hester, D-District 9; Republican District 5 Dels. Haven Shoemaker, Susan Krebs and April Rose; Republican District 9A Dels. Trent Kittleman and Warren Miller; and Del. Barrie Ciliberti, R-District 4.

Bond bill initiatives seeking state money for projects

Lawmakers discussed and voted on two bills Thursday that would solicit money from the approximately $15 million in the state’s capital budget allocated for local projects.

The General Assembly is not required to approve all requests, nor does it have to grant the entire amount of money requested, Ready explained at a hearing for the bills Tuesday at the Carroll County Government offices in Westminster.

The legislature grants requests based on a set of criteria, the most important of which is that the local entity has appropriated funds to match the state investment for the project, Ready added.

One bond bill, which garnered unanimous support from the lawmakers present Thursday, seeks up to $250,000 of state money to provide to the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster’s board of directors to build a new gymnasium at its Main Street facility.

“The Boys & Girls Club basically want to build a gym on the back of their facility on Main Street,” Shoemaker said. “We’ve gotten them some bond money over the past few years to redevelop the facility … now they want to expand and build a gym and be able to service up to like 600 kids in the greater Westminster area.”

Carroll commissioners approve task force to study potential sports complex

Carroll County government staff is seeking one resident from each commissioner district to form a task force and assess where a community events center would best be located in the county, and what resources can go toward its development.

Lawmakers also discussed a bond initiative to seek up to $500,000 in state funds to pair with $500,000 the Board of County Commissioners set aside for an artificial turf field. The plan, state lawmakers said, is to put a turf field at the former North Carroll High facility — with a long-term goal of creating an all-encompassing Carroll County Community Events Center at the facility.

Ready and Shoemaker reiterated Thursday what they told the public Tuesday: Carroll County has no public turf fields, despite neighboring counties having an abundance.

“All of our high school sports, we’ve had a lot of game cancellations over the years,” Ready said, “because when you have bad rain, you can play football in the rain, but you can’t tear up the football field that also doubles as the soccer field and other sports.”

The bill, as drafted, requests money for an artificial turf field.

Krebs said she’d discussed with commissioners leaving language in the legislation more vague, so as to allow the county more flexibility in how to spend excess funds.

“Instead of just using the word ‘turf,’ leaving some flexibility and just call it ‘for a sports complex,’ ” Krebs told her colleagues.

Rose objected to removing turf from the bill, saying a turf field was the initial goal. “I think that absolutely has to be the key first step, is getting that turf field in there.”


Krebs said she thought that might limit the county commissioners’ flexibility in seeing the project through.

Shoemaker said Commissioner Richard Weaver’s idea for an events center was “a really nice idea,” but called it “a pretty ambitious project.”

“What I’m thinking is: Whatever iteration [the commissioners] come up with, the turf field is integral to that,” Shoemaker said.

Ready agreed that broadening the scope of the bill could be a good idea, but said focusing on the turf field — and the fact that Carroll lacks a public one — could be good leverage as the bills move through the lawmaking committees.

“I think it’s a powerful argument to say, ‘We don’t have a turf field,’ ” Ready said.

The delegation unanimously agreed to support the bond initiative, keeping in mind it can be amended in the future as the county commissioners’ intentions become clearer.

Gaming, lottery machines and senior citizen bingo

At the request of the county commissioners and on the behalf of local branches of the Elks organization, Carroll’s state lawmakers voted unanimously to support a bill that would allow fraternal organizations in the county to operate instant lottery ticket machines.

The legislation defines a fraternal organization as an organization that is only conducted for the benefit of its members and beneficiaries, “is operated on a lodge system with ritualistic activity” and has a representative form government. It excludes high school or college fraternities or sororities.

Organizations would have to obtain a license before operating lotto machines, the legislation details.

The county commissioners also asked the delegation to draft and support legislation that would allow the county to provide permits for organizations to conduct gaming events after 1 a.m. on Sundays. The county is currently prohibited from issuing such permits.

Lawmakers unanimously voted to pledge delegation support for this legislation, which caps monetary prizes for the gaming events at $100.

Also on the docket was Shoemaker’s “big bingo bill.”

Shoemaker in past years introduced legislation that would allow senior citizens to play bingo for “nickels or quarters” in the common area of independent or assisted living facilities, he said, “which apparently is against the law.”

Krebs explained that senior centers work around this law by having organizations, like the Lions or Rotary Club, operate the games. An unnecessary step, lawmakers agreed.

They voted unanimously to pledge Carroll County delegation support for Shoemaker’s bill.

Carroll County alcohol laws and regulations

The Carroll delegation also addressed a variety of bills addressing local alcoholic beverage laws.

One bill, which garnered unanimous support, would repeal in Carroll County a requirement that mandates a business applying for an alcoholic beverages license to submit a petition of support signed by at least 10 residents of the jurisdiction where the business is located.

Other bills adjusted provisions relating to different liquor licenses and the amount of discretion the Carroll County liquor board can apply when reviewing license applications.