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Howard elected officials set to hear from public on budget, legislation

Howard County residents have two opportunities this week to share their thoughts with elected officials.

Tuesday night, the county's state delegation – the group of senators and delegates who represent Howard in the General Assembly – will hold a hearing on legislation proposed for the 2016 session, which runs for 90 action-packed days from January to April. This year's session starts Jan. 13.

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On Wednesday, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman hosts his first hearing on the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2017.

Tuesday's hearing by the state delegation will be limited to testimony on local bills.

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Two pieces of legislation propose changes to the county's public school system, which in recent months has come under fire from parents concerned about findings of mold in several school buildings.

One bill, introduced by Del. Warren Miller, a Republican from western Howard County, is aimed at making more information from the school system available under the Maryland Public Information Act. The other, drafted by Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a Fulton Democrat, proposes electing five Board of Education members by district, and two at-large. Currently, all seven members are elected at-large.

School board members voted to oppose both bills at a meeting Nov. 19.

Other legislation headed to the state this year includes three tweaks to liquor law; bond requests for local institutions including the Vantage House retirement community, the Howard County Conservancy and the Community Action Council food bank; a renewed attempt to regulate the county's massage parlors; and a bill proposing to lower the maximum income tax rate.

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Sign-up for Tuesday's hearing, which will be held in the Banneker room of the George Howard building in Ellicott City, opens at 6:45 p.m. and closes at 7:20 p.m. The hearing starts at 7:30 p.m. A future hearing on statewide legislation will be scheduled.

A full text of all the proposed legislation can be found at http://howardcountymd.gov/statedelegation.htm.

Kittleman's hearing, on Wednesday, will also be held in the Banneker room and starts at 7 p.m. Residents can sign up to testify online at www.howardcountymd.gov/budgettestimony.htm or in person beginning at 6 p.m.

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