Powerful testimony from Ward 6 Alderman Dajuan Gay’s mother, Heaven White, about her experience living in Annapolis’ public housing motivated Anne Arundel state lawmakers to expedite and unanimously pass a bill that would not allow the city to exempt public housing from licensing and inspections.
White, 41, spoke about recurring instances of mold, broken and leaky pipes, and other issues that have plagued her family in various HACA units over the years.
“These units have been like this for a long time with single mothers and children and senior citizens living in these conditions,” White said. “Ask yourself if you would want your mother or your child to live in a house like that.”
House Bill 544 would eliminate an exception hidden in the Maryland Housing and Community Development Article regarding the inspection and licensing of properties overseen by the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis. The article currently authorizes local governments to “make exceptions to its sanitary, building, housing, fire, health, subdivision, or other similar laws, rules, regulations” for housing authority properties.
Melissa Maddox-Evans, executive director of HACA, also testified in support of the bill. She answered questions from the delegates about the 790 units in Annapolis, the people who live in them and how the system works.
Del. Seth Howard, R-West River, told White that just because he and his colleagues are in positions of power now, it doesn’t mean they always have been.
“We have heard you,” Howard said.
The delegation’s support of the bill will help it move through the legislative process, but it still needs a full vote of support from both the House of Delegates and the Senate. Delegates and senators of other counties often defer to local lawmakers when bills only affect specific areas of the state, though it doesn’t guarantee passage. This is often called “local courtesy."
In other business, the delegation passed a bill that would move the Anne Arundel County Board of Education annual meeting date from July to December and heard more than a dozen Anne Arundel County Liquor Board and alcohol-related bills from several different lawmakers.
Bills that are likely to come back before the delegation for a vote include:
House Bill 285 would require the Anne Arundel County Liquor Board to publish meeting agendas online at least one week in advance, and meeting minutes online no later than one month afterward. It would also require that every meeting be available to the public by live audio and video streaming online.
House Bill 542 would alter restrictions on how many of certain liquor licenses that an individual or business can obtain.
House Bill 430 would require that businesses with a Class B or Class H liquor license provide a signed affidavit saying alcohol sales made up less than 49% of total business, and food at least 51% in a given 12-month period. These types of licenses already require that food sales make up at least half of total sales, but lawmakers are adding the signed affidavit for an added level of accountability.
House Bill 638 would alter requirements for liquor license applications to be subject to creditor claims.
House Bill 642 would establish a liquor license just for barbershops and beauty salons in the county that wish to provide limited amounts of beer or wine to their customers.
House Bill 714 would authorize the Anne Arundel County Liquor Board to issue permits that would allow any business that primarily sells gift baskets — like a florist — to include a certain amount of beer, wine or liquor in a basket.
House Bill 461 would raise the salaries of part-time inspectors employed by the Anne Arundel County Liquor Board at varying levels.
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House Bill 757 revises the membership of the county liquor board. It requires the governor to appoint five members instead of three — one from each legislative district. It also limits each member to four consecutive terms and requires the board to elect its own chair, rather than the governor appointing the chair.
House Bill 758 requires the county liquor board to employ a full-time executive director, a full-time administrator, and two full-time secretaries whose salaries are fixed by the board within the general county classified salary schedule.
House Bill 536 would allow the liquor board to transfer a business’s license to a new location if the original location of the license is somehow destroyed by “fire, explosion, or catastrophe, taken by condemnation, or taken by the exercise of the power of an eminent domain.”
House Bill 554 would establish a liquor license just for small yacht clubs with more than 30 members.
House Bill 558 would clarify the manner in which a business with an entertainment facility license — like Live Casino — can sell alcoholic beverages. The bill also expands the definition of entertainment that qualifies a business for this type of license.