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Two Harford County Legislative Delegation bills are moving forward with nearly two weeks left before the end of the 2010 Maryland General Assembly, while another bill affecting the county has met its demise.

HB 980 to authorize local nonprofit organizations to host “casino events,” and HB 978 to give the student representative on the Harford County Board of Education partial voting rights have passed out of the House and are in their respective Senate committees.

Meanwhile, HB 663 to allow veterans organizations in Maryland to have up to five slot machines received an unfavorable report by the House Ways and Means Committee, effectively killing the bill.

Casino events

HB 980 would allow specific nonprofit organizations to obtain permits and pay a fees to host up to four casino events a year where attendees can place up to $10 bets on card games, dice games or roulette.

An amendment was added to the bill in House Ways and Means Committee removing films and video recordings of horse races as a possible activity at the casino events.

The bill passed the House with amendments, 121-12, with all eight of Harford’s delegates voting in favor of the bill except for Harford Del. Dan Riley, who had an excused absence.

The bill is in the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee, but a hearing has not been scheduled.

Partial voting rights

HB 978 would allow the student representative on the school board to have partial voting rights.

The bill includes the restrictions the school board requested, and under the bill, a student rep wouldn’t be allowed to vote on matters dealing with the operating and capital budgets, the acquisition and condemnation of property, school boundaries, school closings and re-openings, staff personnel action, promotion and appointment, employment appeals, collective bargaining and appeal hearings.

The student member would also not participate in any adjudicatory action of the board.

The bill, which unanimously passed the House after an amendment to clarify language was added in the House Ways and Means Committee, is now in the Senate’s Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and has a hearing scheduled for April 7 at 1 p.m.

The bill does not have the support of Harford’s three senators, but Sen. Barry Glassman, who serves as the chair of the senators, previously said the local senators would take a look at the bill once it reached the Senate.

Slot machines

HB 663 would have adjusted existing law to authorize all veterans organizations that have been in Maryland for at least five years, to own or operate up to five slot machines, with the stipulation that 50 percent of the proceeds go to the home post and 50 percent go to bona fide charities, but that bill has been killed with an unfavorable report, 15-7, from the House Ways and Means Committee.

A Senate version of the bill that was cross-filed had a hearing, but no action has been taken.

Harford County legislators have tried for decades to get approval for slots machines in veterans organizations in the county, but the General Assembly refuses to bring slots machines across the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. Veterans organizations on the Eastern Shore are the only ones in the state allowed to have slot machines.

In addition, three other bills sponsored by Harford County’s legislators are not making much progress in the session.

All three have had committee hearings, but no committee action had been taken as of Tuesday at 5 p.m.

HB 1020 to designate English as the official language of Harford County has gained the support of the entire local delegation.

Del. Rick Impallaria’s HB 654 would make it harder for towing companies to take vehicles from private properties and charge outrageous fines for the storage of impounded vehicles. Typically, towing regulations and fees are set and enforced by local governments.

Impallaria claims the bill is necessary because there have been issues where military personnel serving overseas return home to find their vehicles have been towed, and in some cases resold, according to members of the delegation.

Riley’s HB 664 to authorize a tax, not to exceed 5 percent, on hotel and motel room rentals in Harford did not get the support of the other local delegates and is essentially dead for this year.


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