ANNAPOLIS -- The Schaefer administration's growth-management bill, which played well to business but seemed too weak to environmentalists, is expected to emerge from a Senate committee with stronger language today.
Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, an Anne Arundel Democrat, said yesterday he has been working with the administration to punch up the original bill, which was itself a weaker version of one Gov. William Donald Schaefer introduced last year to control urban and suburban sprawl.
The House of Delegates voted 121-13 earlier this month for House Bill 1195, now before the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee. Mr. Winegrad said he expects near unanimous support for an amended bill from the other committee members.
"We're making the bill do something, where before it was a toothless tiger," said Mr. Winegrad, who has worked with the administration to draw up amendments.
He said two changes he plans were in the draft version of the bill, but were gone by the time it was introduced officially.
They would require consistency in local growth ordinances and an enforcement provision that would allow the Board of Public Works to bow out of projects that are in violation of a local growth-management plan.
Mr. Winegrad also wants to delete language in the original bill that says local governments don't have to implement growth plans if they don't have the resources.
"I felt very strongly that provision must be out of the bill," said Mr. Winegrad. "I still think it's too weak."
The governor's approach had been designed to win over a skeptical business community by emphasizing local control.
Last year's bill required the state's 23 counties to direct future growth to already developed areas. This year's bill allows the counties to decide how and where development should occur.
Kay G. Bienen, a lobbyist for the Maryland Builders Association, said she did not anticipate objecting to the amended version, but she could not comment specifically because it has been changing constantly over the past three days.
But David Bliden, executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties, said his group intended to scrutinize the amendments "very closely." He warned against giving the state "a mechanism to penalize counties" by denying them state projects.