ANNAPOLIS — Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, plans to introduce four bills thisweek to increase protection for residents living near quarries and ensure that land is reclaimed.
Last week, he introduced a bill thatwould compel mining companies to compensate property owners or repair damages caused by sinkholes within a "zone of dewatering influence."
Sinkholes are sudden subsidences of land that can occur naturallyor be caused by extracting ground water.
Dixon said two bills would "change the legislative intent" of mining laws.
One would say that the mining industry must balance its interest in obtaining minerals with the interests of other nearby property owners; the other would say that mining doesn't necessarily take precedence where land could be used for other alternatives, even if minerals exist in the area.
Another would increase mining fees, raise the amount of performance bonds and toughen standards for reclamation, or returning the landto suitable condition once a quarry is abandoned.
The fourth billwould require the state Department of Natural Resources to approve the mineral resource plan of any county.
Dixon says he objects to the mining plan being developed in Carroll because "it's not balanced for the citizens."
AVERTING LIBRARY CUTS
ANNAPOLIS -- A group of library officials from Carroll and Frederick counties explained to theCarroll delegation Thursday cost-cutting measures taken by librariesand warned against any further damaging budget cuts.
Del. Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, complimented Carroll's public library director for developing the county's system but said Carroll legislators "are in no position to promise anything."
Among the library representatives were Martha Makosky, director of Carroll Public Libraries; Donnadine Spilman, supervisor of media and technology for Carrollschools; and Harold D. Neikirk, director of Western Maryland College's Hoover Library.
Makosky emphasized that Maryland libraries serving the public, schools and higher education have a long tradition ofcooperative arrangements.
"We have a strong library network," shesaid. "We're asking for whatever help they could give us to keep thesystem alive."
Libraries can be hurt through direct cuts in stateaid and indirectly through reductions in aid to local governments, she said.
Public school libraries have reduced spending on book andmedia supply purchases and staff development. The public library system has cut its budget for materials by 24 percent since July 1990 and has plans to close for four days this spring if certain state cuts are made.
TAX HEARINGS SET
ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll residents and government officials will testify on tax bills this week.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee will have joint hearings on all sales,
income, business, tobacco, alcohol and other tax bills from 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday inthe Joint Hearing Room of the Legislative Services Building here.
Individuals and organizations can testify from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, and from 1 to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Elected officials and government representatives will testify from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday.
Those wishing to register to speak in advance can call the Department of Fiscal Services at 841-3710 or 1-800-492-7122, Ext. 3710.
People can sign up to testify between noon and 1 p.m. each day in the Joint Hearing Room.
The bills include proposals to change county income tax rates, individual income tax rates and income tax revenue distribution to counties.
HAINES BILL IS PASSED
ANNAPOLIS -- A billsponsored by Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, that would establish a one-time $35 registration fee for historic vehicles manufactured before 1946 passed the Senate last week, 40-4. Current law requires owners to pay $13.50 annually to register the vehicles.