Pay raises, new liquor license lead county's list of legislative successes

April 17, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

All but three pieces of legislation introduced by Carroll County legislators passed the General Assembly this year. Local legislators secured raises for some county officials and a new liquor license for Rudys' 2900 Restaurant in Finksburg.

Bills to give the county commissioners authority to audit Board of Education management practices and the county credit for recycling scrap tires were killed.

Legislation to allow Carroll fire police to use portable blinking red lights at emergency scenes also failed, but the fire police got what they wanted in the end because a similar bill that would be effective statewide passed.

"I think we did well for Carroll County," said Del. Richard N. Dixon, a District 5A Democrat.

"It was an interesting session. It was demanding," he said.

Del. Richard C. Matthews, a 5th District Republican and chairman of the Carroll delegation, guided local legislation through the General Assembly. Carroll County commissioners must ask legislators to introduce bills because Carroll does not have home rule.

Mr. Matthews agreed that the 90-day session, which ended Monday, was a busy season.

Local bills awaiting the governor's signature as of Friday were:

* Salary increases, effective after elections this year.

The state's attorney would receive the largest raise, to $70,000 a year from $60,000. State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman, who is running for re-election, had asked for an increase to $82,000.

Salaries for the three county commissioners would increase to $32,500 from $30,000 a year.

The sheriff's annual pay would increase to $37,500 from $35,000.

The salaries of the three Orphan's Court judges would increase to $7,500 from $6,500 a year. The judges had asked for $9,500.

* New kind of liquor license.

The owners of Rudys' asked for the new license, which would allow the restaurant to close for lunch, a meal that has not been profitable.

Now, restaurants with Class B liquor licenses must serve two meals a day during the week and one meal a day on weekends.

The new license would allow restaurants to serve only one evening meal at least six days a week.

* Criminal background checks.

Carroll commissioners would have the power to conduct criminal background checks on certain employees and contractors. Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. asked for the bill because he wants to ensure security at the courthouse.

* Sheriff's Department employees.

Sheriff John H. Brown said legislation was needed to protect all department employees from being fired without just cause. The measure says that during the first 18 months of employment, Sheriff's Department workers may be dismissed without reason. After that, they may be fired or disciplined only for cause.

Current law protects only deputies, not correctional officers and civilian employees, the sheriff said.

Carroll fire police are close to claiming victory on the issue of emergency lights on their vehicles. The volunteers have been lobbying for years to use lights, which they said are needed for safety reasons.

A bill sponsored by Harford County Del. James M. Harkins, a Republican, to allow volunteer fire police to use red lights at an emergency scene passed the House and Senate and was awaiting the governor's signature Friday.

The measure also would allow fire chiefs, assistant chiefs and emergency medical services commanders to use red lights while en route to the firehouse or an emergency scene.

It was the first time the Maryland State Fireman's Association had asked for statewide legislation on the issue, said Charles W. Riley, chairman of the association's legislative committee.

Several other counties had pushed for the legislation in the past, he said.

This year, the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee killed Carroll's bill on the issue.

Two other Carroll bills failed in House committees:

* School performance audits.

The Ways and Means Committee voted down the bill for the second consecutive year. The commissioners wanted authority to audit the school board's management practices to find ways to save money.

Committee members said they did not understand why the commissioners could not find ways to save money without passing a bill. The Board of Education has agreed to an audit in food services, personnel and transportation.

* Recycling scrap tires.

The Environmental Matters Committee killed the bill, which would have given counties across the state recycling "credit" for old tires used as fuel in cement kilns.

The Maryland Department of the Environment opposed the bill. An official said burning scrap tires is a good practice, but it's not recycling.

Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Union Bridge wants to burn scrap tires, but its plans are on hold because of a patent dispute.

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