Loosening a liquor law and finding wiggle room for school construction funding are two of the Frederick County Council’s priorities for the 2018 legislative session.

The council voted in favor of four legislative priorities at a workshop on Tuesday evening.

A final legislative package will be drafted by County Executive Jan Gardner (D) and presented to the county’s General Assembly delegation next month.

The council voted 7-0 to support proposed legislation from Councilman Jerry Donald (D) that would strike from the state’s liquor laws a requirement that banquet facilities must invest $250,000 — excluding the cost of land, buildings and leases — before receiving a liquor license.

The issue came to light after Brunswick’s Smoketown Brewing began making plans to reopen an event space above the brewery, a former fire station.

Donald said the requirement in law unnecessarily limits competition.

The council also voiced varying levels of support for three position statements to guide the delegation during the upcoming session:

  • A proposal from Councilwoman M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) to support legislation to establish greater oversight for BSL-3 laboratories was approved 6-1, with Councilman Billy Shreve (R) voting against the measure.
  • A position statement from Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater to support legislation from a state task force to increase legal protections for youth victims of human trafficking was approved 5-2, with Shreve and Councilman Kirby Delauter (R) voting against it.
  • A position statement from Delauter supporting delegation efforts to allow state public school construction funding to be shifted between approved projects passed the council 7-0.

Some other proposed legislative priorities failed to gain enough support to move forward.

Shreve proposed two ideas for legislation — to allow mobile homes to be sold as real property rather than motor vehicles and to exempt affordable housing projects from the county’s Forest Resource Ordinance requirements — that were voted down by council members who said the proposals left too many unanswered questions.

Councilman Tony Chmelik (R) had sought council support for a change in law that would allow home-schooled children to participate in Frederick County Public Schools extracurricular activities and community college dual enrollment programs if they paid their own way. Chmelik instead presented his proposal to the Frederick County Board of Education, which will consider whether to advance the idea.

The council received an update on legislative priorities being considered by County Executive Jan Gardner (D), but did not vote on those items.

Gardner is once again supporting an ethics reform bill that would extend campaign donation prohibitions to members of the Frederick County Planning Commission who are running for office. She is also putting forward two position statements. One supports reinstating highway user revenue payments from the state to the county, and the other increased state funding for school construction.

Six other position statements were recommended by members of the public or community organizations. The topics are:

  • Increased paratransit funding.
  • Support for agricultural programs.
  • Legislation to prohibit standard cars from using parking spaces designated for electric vehicles.
  • Support for legislation to end poverty in the county and state.
  • Legislation that would require courts to inform defendants when they are prohibited from possessing guns.
  • Increased funding for the Maryland Agriculture Water Quality Cost Share Program.

Gardner has not reached a formal position on the suggestions from the public. Under the county’s charter, it is the county executive’s role to advance the state legislative priorities of the county.

A final legislative package will be presented to the county’s General Assembly delegation at a Winchester Hall meeting on Nov. 16.

How the county’s legislative priorities package has traveled through the County Council has changed each year since the shift to charter government.

Last year, the entire proposed package — including initiatives from the county executive — was voted on in a single vote, which divided the council 4-3.

Before the 2016 General Assembly session, the council voted on each legislative priority individually, which led to at least some items heading to Annapolis with 7-0 support.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(7) comments

saogirl52

I was going to tell him that if he had responded to me. My comments are based on 35 years experience working in the criminal justice system.....not move on. There are now more offenses requiring the offender to relinquish weapons. Many misdemeanors are included as well as felonies. Titanman can review the Public Safety Article, Section 5-133 of the Annotated Code of MD if he has personal concerns about who may and who may not possess a weapon.

DickD

The motion to make sure a gasoline engine car cannot occupy a EV charging station is a good one. If an EV is running out of charge they cannot just shop around. Most EV's have a charging station indicator, but there is no way of knowing if it is being used or not. Also, how would anyone know a gas engine car is just tying up the charging station. If an EV car arrives at a charging station, occupied by a gas engine car, they can simply call the police to have the gas engine car towed away.

Titanman123

Lost no this story is Jan Gardner pushing more gun control. She thinks this is Moco! Doesn’t she have better things to do instead of going after guns?

saogirl52

You misunderstood this. If a person, by state law, commits certain crimes, s/he is prohibited by state law, from owning weapons. That person, by state law, can be arrested for possessing a weapon, subsequent to conviction of one of the above referred laws. Gardner proposes making sure the offender knows that s/he is not permitted to possess a weapon. Ignorance of law is not a valid defense. She is actually doing the offender a favor.

Titanman123

If it’s so common sense why hasn’t the Democrat legislature passed it? Perhaps because the police, states attorneys and judges all oppose it. I’m guessing that wasn’t mentioned in your moveon.org talking points.

saogirl52

To whom are you addressing with your last comment?

DickD

Titanman, this comment doesn't make sense, Sas girl was telling you that Jan was doing those with criminal records a favor by telling them they cannot legally own a gun. That restriction is true in most states, telling the felon is just to remind them and to let them know - if they didn't already know.

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