Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Weldon: Two cancelled meetings won’t stall bills

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Frederick delegation Chairman Richard B. Weldon Jr. has taken steps to ensure that with a favorable vote tomorrow, Frederick County’s legislation will be ready to immediately go to the Maryland General Assembly.

The eight-member delegation typically meets each Friday during the three-month session to discuss county bills., but Weldon canceled delegation meetings on Jan. 18 and Jan. 25. The first was canceled because of the funeral of Sen. Gwendolyn Britt (D), the second because some members could not attend.

The delegation is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the package of bills submitted by Frederick County commissioners last year. This will be the second time the delegation has met since the session opened Jan. 9.

Since commissioners cannot pass certain pieces of legislation on their own, each year they must ask the senators and delegates who represent the county in Annapolis to introduce the bills to the General Assembly on the county’s behalf. The General Assembly will then vote on the bills.

The session concludes April 7, and will likely leave action on many of the hundreds of bills submitted by the 47 senators and 141 delegates unfinished. Weldon has made preparations to ensure that Frederick County’s bills do not get lost in the shuffle, he said.

Weldon (R-Dist. 3B) is confident the delegation will meet all filing deadlines set forth in the Maryland Constitution.

‘‘I made the decision to have the county bills drafted in advance, so they’re ready to drop immediately after a favorable vote,” Weldon said in an e-mail.

Two of the county bills have already come before the delegation in past years, which could mean less debate by the delegation, Weldon said.

The first is a bill giving commissioners the authority to set up a countywide trash collection franchise and the second is the creation of a beverage container deposit⁄return system.

At the Jan. 11 meeting, the delegation voted in favor of submitting a bill extending the filing of the county’s annual financial report with the Department of Legislative Services, from Nov. 1 to Jan. 1.

Weldon predicts that the delegation will take no action on several other bills because they would impact the entire state. The delegation as a whole only puts forward bills that impact only Frederick County.

For example, the delegation is expected not to take action on an amendment to the Maryland Constitution stating that private property shall not be taken for commercial development and another bill requiring out-of-state businesses that receive state tax benefits to publicly disclose their Maryland income tax returns.

County Board President Jan H. Gardner (D) is not worried that the delegation will have little time to discuss the county bills.

‘‘... Would I like to have had these discussions sooner? Yes,” Gardner said in an e-mail. ‘‘Can I control a funeral or delegation conflicts? No. Am I more worried this week than last week about our prospects of success? I feel about the same.”

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