A long-awaited bill that would ban smoking in businesses employing more than 50 people is finally scheduled to come before the Anne Arundel County Council for a vote tonight.
If passed, the proposed law would also mandate nonsmoking sections in restaurants seating more than 75 patrons.
Stricter anti-smoking legislation was originally proposed in February by Councilwoman Maureen Lamb. But when her bill appeared destined for defeat after being denounced by her colleagues as being hostile to business, Councilwoman Diane Evans, an Arnold Republican, proposed an anti-smoking law that, while restricting the activity in public places, would have exempted hotels, businesses and restaurants.
After Ms. Lamb, an Annapolis Democrat, managed to amend Ms. Evan's bill to include the present provisions affecting businesses and restaurants, she withdrew her bill. At a council meeting two weeks ago, Ms. Evans attempted a last-ditch effort to restore the business and restaurant exemptions, but the amendments were defeated by a 4-3 vote.
Tonight's meeting caps a busy day for the council and kicks off budget deliberations. County Executive Robert R. Neall will deliver his budget message to the council at 11 a.m. The council will reconvene in its chambers at 1:30 p.m. to begin deliberations on the county's general fund.
The council will continue to meet each day at 1:30 p.m., except Fridays, to discuss the capital and operating budgets. In addition, four evening public hearings are scheduled for next week.
The first two hearings are set for Old Mill High School, 600 Old Mill Road. Monday, the subject is the general county budget; Tuesday, the council will take up the Board of Education budget.
Two more hearings are scheduled for Annapolis High School, 2700 Riva Road. On Wednesday evening, the council will again hear testimony on the general county budget; on Thursday, it will deal with the education budget. All four public hearings will begin at 7:30 p.m.
The council must approve a budget by May 28 for fiscal year 1994, which begins July 1.
In other business at tonight's council meeting, a vote is scheduled on a proposal to raise the garbage collection fee for county residents from $90 to $130. Tipping fees for commercial haulers also would be increased by $5, to $55 a ton.
The council is also scheduled to vote on a bill that would allow the Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District to charge fees to developers for its work in reviewing grading and sediment control plans. The agency wants to charge the fees so that it will be less dependent on the county for funding.
The council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Arundel Center in Annapolis. The council also has a meeting set for tomorrow night on the county's proposal to undertake a $71-million expansion of its Annapolis detention center.