Prospects improve for two county bills Sensitive measures on education receive unexpected House OK

March 24, 1997|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Two sensitive Baltimore County education bills that unexpectedly survived House of Delegates scrutiny have a chance for enactment as the county's state senators prepare to take them up at hearings this week.

One measure would require Maryland's governor to choose county school board members from among those nominated by the private School Board Nominating Convention; the other would allow the county teachers union to collect dues from nonmembers hired after July 1.

The school board bill is sponsored by Rep. Donald E. Murphy, a Catonsville Republican. The bill comes at a time when an increased number of candidates has led to a resurgence of the nominating convention -- a 35-year-old private group of community organizations that screens board applicants and recommends names to the governor.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening and his predecessor, William Donald Schaefer, have tended to ignore the convention picks, choosing board members recommended by county political leaders, which has weakened the convention's influence.

Some African-American legislators oppose the bill because they believe black participation in the convention process is poor.

Seven applicants are vying for one vacant board seat, including a former president of Essex Community College, a city school principal and a former county teachers union president. One of the seven applicants is black.

In addition, Donald L. Arnold, a new board member chosen by Glendening last fall to fill a separate vacancy, is seeking the nominating convention's blessing for a full five-year term.

"We're back, and we intend to stay," regardless of the bill's fate, convention President Norman Macneal said. The measure was TC approved by the full House on a 86-32 vote Thursday.

The union fee bill may have a good chance of enactment this year.

The Teachers Association of Baltimore County supports it on the grounds that union leaders must represent nonmembers in grievances and negotiations and should be able to negotiate collection of a fee in lieu of dues for those nonmembers.

The bill does not require the fee, but merely enables the union to negotiate with the school board to arrange one.

The bill passed the House 77-42, after years of rejection by the county's delegates. This time, the county's delegates narrowly voted for it.

State Senate delegation Chairman Michael J. Collins, an Essex Democrat, said the senators would hear about both bills Thursday afternoon.

Pub Date: 3/24/97

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