Howard County Council votes to ban certain tropical woods


The Howard County Council unanimously approved a watered-down bill last night prohibiting the Howard County government from buying items using any of 43 tropical rain forest wood products.

The bill, introduced by Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, follows the lead of the Baltimore City Council, which adopted a similar ban earlier this year out of concern that depletion of the world's rain forests might speed up global warming and lead to the extinction of wildlife and marine life.

But the Howard County Council limited its impact by applying the ban to purchases exceeding $2,000. It does not cover wood products from plantations using environmentally accepted harvesting practices.

In other action, the council voted 4-1 to place on the ballot two charter amendments to establish a "rainy day" fund from budget surpluses. If the charter amendments, promoted by County Executive Charles I. Ecker, are approved on the November 1992 ballot, the fund would go into effect on July 1, 1993.

County Budget Director Raymond S. Wacks said that the proposals would set up a reserve fund capped at 7 percent of the recently completed budget. Excess money would be used only for capital projects or one-time expenditures such as road projects or large pieces of equipment.

The council also voted 3-2 to allow the office of consumer protection to regulate the towing industry and oversee the towing of vehicles from private property without the vehicle owners' consent. The legislation will go into effect Jan. 1 if Mr. Ecker signs it.

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