Charter schools, gambling legislation and gun ownership rights were all topics of discussion at Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner’s (D) town hall to discuss the county’s proposed legislation and overall priorities for the local state delegation.
After an introduction of Gardner’s and Councilman Steve McKay’s (R) proposals, she heard from four county residents about the proposed legislation and policy statements from organizations.
Hugh Warner, of Frederick, asked the county not to support any bills that would divert state gambling revenue from the state’s Veterans of Foreign Wars posts or similar venues.
Gardner asked if that ever comes up in the state Legislature, and Warner said it does almost every year. Gardner said she and county officials would consider putting in a position statement supporting Warner’s stance.
Gardner said school construction funding and formulas will be a key focus in the upcoming session. Allison Rizzo and Milly Carlson, both of Frederick, spoke of the need for charter schools to be included in that conversation and to receive some assistance.
Rizzo serves as treasurer of the board of trustees of Frederick Classical Charter School, and Carlson is a non-voting member of Carroll Creek Montessori Public Charter School.
“We’re just asking for the conversation about our charter school funding challenges to be elevated,” Rizzo said.
The state’s Workgroup on the Assessment and Funding of School Facilities, a group that Gardner sits on, has briefly been included discussion on that area, Gardner said.
“Some communities have more charter schools and they try to do some public-private partnerships to renovate mostly existing office space to be used for charter schools,” Gardner said.
Jeff Miller, of Monrovia, objected to Moms Demand Action Frederick County’s position statement on supporting a bill that aims to close a loophole where long guns can be bought through an unlicensed dealer without a background check.
Miller said if that law passes, it would prevent him from lending his shotgun to his son.
“It would have actually made me a criminal to lend my son a gun to go goose hunting,” Miller said.
Gardner told Miller to testify before the state delegation in December if he is able.
“We don’t weigh in on everything that happens in Annapolis because we don’t have the background [information],” Gardner said after the town hall.
She added her two bills — one to add Frederick County to a state renters tax credit law and another raising Board of Education members’ annual salaries by $4,000 — should be uncontroversial.
Gardner said she was a little surprised to not hear more testimony about Councilman Steve McKay’s proposal to create an election process to fill vacancies in the county’s Board of Education.
Another local state issue, the improvement of U.S. 15, is a different process. Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn or his staff will meet with Gardner and county staff at the end of October, she said.
County officials will then draft a letter of priorities and share that with the state delegation in February or March, she added.