County Executive Robert R. Neall issued his first veto Thursday, nixing a seemingly innocuous bill allowing carnivals and lawn parties onSundays.
Calling Councilman Edward Middlebrooks' bill "hasty and partial legislation" and "piece-meal tinkering," Neall's brief veto message ordered a comprehensive study of amusement licensing. Such a study is sorely needed, he said Friday, because the licensing code hasnot been updated since the early 1950s.
"We could have 10 bills like this on amusements, and we'd end up with a polyglot," Neall said.
The veto surprised Middlebrooks, a Severn Democrat. "The administration first came down and testified in favor of it," he said. "Much to my surprise, two weeks later the administration testified against it. It seems like a case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing."
Middlebrooks said he'll urge his six County Council colleagues to override the veto at their Tuesday night meeting. Five council votes are needed to overturn a veto.
He scoffed at Neall's directive that a soon-to-be-appointed Amusement License Commission study carnivals, bazaars and "lawn fetes," the three activities mentioned in his bill. The bill would permit suchevents between 1 p.m. and midnight on Sundays, and from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday when Sunday is the last day of the event.
"Part of theproblem with government is every time we want to do anything, we need another committee or commission," Middlebrooks said. "I don't thinkyou need a commission to tell you somebody should be operating on Sunday. That's ridiculous."
Due to years of oversights by the Anne Arundel Department of Inspections and Permits, the county's licensing system is woefully outdated, said department Director Robert J. Dvorak. Not only are licensing fees low, but the county code also does notdefine many amusement activities.
No one, for example, knows exactly what a lawn fete is.
At two public hearings on the Middlebrooks bill, a carnival operator and representatives of several community associations testified in support of Sunday events.