House panel backs 'right-to-farm' bill


ANNAPOLIS -- One House committee approved Carroll County's "right-to-farm" legislation Friday, but another rejected the commissioners' request for authority to audit school management performance.

The House Environmental Matters Committee voted Friday to send House Bill 544 to the floor. The bill would allow the commissioners to write an ordinance to protect the right to farm.

County farmers say such a law is needed to reduce the number of complaints and lawsuits filed against them by suburban neighbors bothered by the smells and noise of agriculture.

The commissioners must ask the General Assembly to authorize the ordinance because Carroll does not have home rule.

On another Carroll County request, the House Ways and Means Committee voted for the second straight year to kill a bill to give the commissioners permission to audit the Board of Education's management practices.

Carroll delegation members warned the commissioners before the 1994 General Assembly session began that the bill was likely to fail. But the commissioners said they wanted to try again to get it enacted.

Commissioners Julia W. Gouge and Elmer C. Lippy testified in favor of House Bill 548 at a committee hearing Wednesday. They said the commissioners should have the power to audit the school board, which receives 53 percent of the county's operating budget.

The school board already has agreed to a performance audit of personnel, food services and transportation. Three board members testified against the bill.

On Thursday, the Commerce and Government Matters Committee voted to kill a Carroll bill that would have allowed county fire police to use red emergency lights at accident scenes.

This is at least the third year lawmakers have killed the bill. Maryland State Police oppose it.

The Commerce and Government Matters Committee also voted Thursday to send three Carroll bills to the House floor. Those bills are:

* County commissioners' pay raise. House Bill 1348 would raise the commissioners' annual salary to $32,500 from $30,000, effective after the next election.

* Economic Development Commission. House Bill 545 would allow the commissioners to appoint at least nine of the 25 members.

* Dog and kennel licenses. House Bill 546 would allow the Carroll County Humane Society to issue dog and kennel licenses

according to the calendar year instead of the fiscal year.

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