Session of Modest Accomplishment

April 21, 1994

The General Assembly session that adjourned last week was modestly successful for Carroll County. That is, the delegation started with a modest agenda of local bills, and, as result, was able to see most of it enacted.

The most notable local bill was winning pay raises for the commissioners, state's attorney and sheriff. They take effect next year, following the November elections. The General Assembly also authorized the county to pass right-to-farm legislation that should thwart a raft of nuisance suits filed against farmers. On the liquor front, a new class of license was created that allows restaurants to serve only one meal a day instead of two. The bill was submitted at the request of Rudys' 2900, a noted Finksburg restaurant that wanted to discontinue a money-losing lunch trade. The legislature also approved the creation of a microbrewery in Mount Airy.

Of a dozen bills the county commissioners had requested, three failed to win approval. The most publicized was the delegation's refusal to introduce a measure that would have authorized the creation of a women's commission. The resulting uproar underscored the pervasive shortcomings of the commissioner form of government. Even though two of Carroll's three commissioners supported the concept of a commission to address women and family issues, the local delegation took it upon itself to derail the proposal. Bucking protocol, Del. Larry LaMotte introduced it anyway, but without the delegation's support, it withered in committee.

The commissioners also failed to win the necessary blessing from the delegation to conduct a school system performance audit. Such an accounting was sought to improve the operation of the school system, which receives 53 percent of the county's operating budget. The commissioners failed to make a good case for it in Annapolis, however, and that matter also died in committee.

On the plus side were a number of items buried in appropriation measures: the Historical Society of Carroll County will receive $100,000 to repair its Westminster headquarters and Carroll Community College received enough money to forestall the need for a tuition increase next year. Considering the generally lackluster nature of the 1994 session, Carroll should consider itself fortunate to have garnered its tiny collection of victories.

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