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County lawmakers approve eight bills to submit to legislative session


Howard's state legislators have approved eight county bills for introduction in the 1994 General Assembly session, including a measure to outlaw nude dancing at establishments that aren't regulated by the county liquor board.

The delegation voted Wednesday night to kill three county bills, and tabled until January six proposals, including legislation limiting the school superintendent's authority to transfer principals and assistant principals.

The three-month session starts Jan. 12.

Most bills supported by a county delegation pass the legislature as a matter of courtesy. That's not the case, however, with requests for state money for capital projects.

County lawmakers will go to Annapolis next month seeking $1 million for a county agricultural center, $220,000 for preservation of the historic Ellicott City Colored School and $300,000 for a performing arts center at Wilde Lake High School. All three projects will require matching funds from county government or other organizations.

"We'll have to fight for those," said Del. Robert H. Kittleman, R-14. "We deserve something."

Del. Martin G. Madden, a 31st District Republican, is sponsoring a bill prohibiting nudity, aimed at Good Guys Bar & Grill on U.S. 1 in North Laurel. The bar turned in its liquor license and converted to a bring-your-own-alcohol private club with nude dancing after the liquor board fined its owners and temporarily suspended its license last spring.

"This is closing a loophole that's an incentive for turning in a liquor license to the detriment of the public interest," Mr. Madden said.

Under Mr. Madden's bill, bars or clubs that don't have liquor licenses but allow patrons to bring alcoholic beverages would also be regulated by the county's liquor laws.

Among other delegation-approved bills is one that would extend until 1998 an excise tax on new construction projects, which has generated $4.4 million for road projects since July 1992. Another one, sponsored by Mr. Madden, is designed to make jury duty less time-consuming.

Sen. Christopher J. McCabe, a 14th District Republican, said it's too soon to tell whether his bill, which would limit the school superintendent's authority to transfer administrators, is the most effective way to address the issue.

The bill would require the superintendent to notify the school board and appropriate PTA of transfers and allow the PTA to request a public hearing. But it would not authorize the school board to overrule the superintendent's decisions.

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey angered parents and educators when he ordered the involuntary transfer of about 60 administrators and teachers in June.

Frustrated educators and parents attended a delegation hearing Tuesday night to support the measure and ask that teachers and other support personnel be included.

"I think a lot of strong emotions came out. It's probably wise to let those settle a little bit," said Mr. McCabe, adding that a Board of Education task force formed to study the issue may develop solutions.

The delegation also tabled a bill drafted by County Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, that would give county government or a mobile homeowners association the "right of first purchase" to buy a mobile home park put up for sale.

The delegation also put off action until January on a bill that failed in the House of Delegates last year. It would have required applicants for zoning changes to declare campaign contributions of $500 or more to County Council members.

Bills that were killed would have: relieved the council of its liquor board duty; allowed the county state's attorney to hire an additional deputy; and permitted the school employees' association to charge a fee to nonmembers who are represented in negotiations.

The delegation plans to schedule a public hearing in January on the county's request to extend its 5 percent hotel room tax.

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