Effective Session for Anne Arundel

April 20, 1994

The Anne Arundel County delegation came away from the 1994 General Assembly session with money for schools and useful new legislation, but its most admirable accomplishment was steering clear of an ugly civil war over a new jail.

For a while North County lawmakers were threatening to kill important South County projects, such as the rebricking of Annapolis' Main Street, if South County lawmakers voted to build the jail in Glen Burnie. Such retaliation would have pitted countians against each other and punished constituents who have nothing to do with the jail issue. In the end, North County lawmakers realized this. Once the vote was cast to provide money to design a new jail in Glen Burnie, they stopped the posturing and promises of recrimination and made decisions about South County projects based on their merits. They not only helped save the rebricking, they minimized what could have been a very wide, painful rift within the delegation.

As far as the jail itself, we are glad some consensus finally has been reached on this unpopular but necessary project. We hope when the matter returns to County Council members next month that they continue to support the Ordnance Road site rather than let opponents intimidate them into starting the whole miserable process all over again.

As always, schools reaped the lion's share of the state funding. Anne Arundel received $4.4 million for school construction projects, which unfortunately is about $3.4 million less than it might have gotten if designs for other projects were further along in the pipeline. The good news, however, is that the county could still get all or part of that money as these projects become ready.

More good news: The county will generate an extra $240,000 annually thanks to a new tax on instant bingo; 20 percent of transfer tax revenues received from the state can be used toward farmland preservation, and Sheriff Robert Pepersack got a reasonable 6 percent pay raise instead of that ridiculously huge increase he sought.

Overall, the Anne Arundel County delegation enjoyed an effective session. That is no more than what it should have done, but more than one might have expected back in January with election-year pressures and a contentious issue like the jail hanging over legislators' heads.

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