Dixon Plans Bills To Further Regulate Mining

County's Legislators List Aims For Session

January 08, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

Carroll delegates have battled the powerful mining industry the pastfour years to gain legal protection for residents living near quarries, achieving their first major victory just last year.

But the battle isn't over. Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, who spearheadsthe effort, plans to introduce several bills in the 1992 session further regulating the industry and safeguarding surrounding Wakefield Valley properties.

The measures likely will be opposed by mining officials arguing that the legislation is excessive and economically damaging.

Dixon's quarry bills are among the wide-ranging initiatives that Carroll lawmakers plan to sponsor for the 1992 session, which begins today. Thefollowing are bills the Carroll delegation members intend to introduce:

Dixon: Last year's bill presumes quarry companies are liable for water supply depletions within a "zone of influence" around their operations and requires them to replace water supplies. A state mining association later challenged the legislation in court.

As a compromise to get the 1991 bill enacted, the law provides lesser protections for sinkholes -- land depressions that can occur naturally or by extracting ground water.

Dixon is seeking the same treatment for sinkholes as for water supplies this year. He says he is working on several other mining-related bills to protect residents, but won't reveal them yet.

Dixon plans to reintroduce two revised bills. One would provide points to motorists with years of clean driving records. The points would offset penalties assessed for violations. The proposal is intended to reduce court cases and keep insurance premiums down.

The other would place new limits on the appeals process for deathrow inmates.

Delegate Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard: Elliott plans to continue pushing for reforms in the state Department of Human Resources' handling of child and adult abuse and neglect cases. He succeeded last year in passing a bill requiring local social service agencies to expunge reports of suspected child abuse or neglect ifthe case is "ruled out." He plans to sponsor several bills giving citizens more rights concerning records, administrative appeals and access to information.

He also is devising several bills intended to save money and help the poor, elderly and disabled. One would allow the state to recover and reuse "durable" medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, for medical assistance clients. Another would require pharmaceutical companies to give a percentage of prescription sales to the Maryland Pharmacy Assistance Program for low-income clients.

He is researching a bill that would require attachment of a notice to marriage permits advising the couple to have AIDS tests.

Elliott could take honors for sponsoring the most unusual bill. He is considering legislation that would make it a misdemeanor to be a spectator at an illegal cockfighting or dogfighting event.

Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll: The delegation chairman plans to reintroduce one bill that would create a central register listing certain criminal cases and judges' sentences for public review and another that would restrict plea-bargaining.

He also plans to introduce two drunken driving-related bills: one would assess an automatic $25 surcharge for offenses; the other would impose an alcohol restriction on drivers licenses for second offenses.

Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore: LaMotte is convinced that development in many counties deviates substantially from adopted master plans, including in Carroll.

"There are so many loopholes; anybody can build anywhere," he said.

To tighten enforcement, he plans to introduce legislation requiring local jurisdictions to follow their adopted master plans or risk losing certain state aid.

He also might revive his bill requiring the registration and licensing of all-terrain vehicles and creatinggovernment-owned riding areas.

Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore: Haines prefiled a bill that would alter recordation tax payment and collection methods, which could save Carroll an estimated $150,000 annually.

He is working on legislation that would require those reselling owner-occupied homes to disclose certain "pertinent facts," such as water and septic system problems, as part of the sales agreement.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard: The 26-year senator doesn't plan to introduce any legislation.

"I'm committed to downsizing government and working full time on the operating and capital budgets," he said.

"If I give that the time it needs, I won't have time to fool around on any bills."


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