ANNAPOLIS —Seasoned legislators in Annapolis know a lot can happen in the last week of a session in the Maryland General Assembly.
Money can show up for capital projects after fierce lobbying. Bills with momentum can stall as other issues take precedence.
For the 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly, most of the bills sponsored by the Washington County delegation appear to be on their way to final passage.
But several key issues that could bring state money to the county in the form of grants or money related to capital projects likely will be hammered out this week and early next week before the session ends April 8.
Del. John P. Donoghue said earlier this week he is holding out hope for getting $100,000 related to planning for downtown revitalization through the state’s supplemental budget.
The supplemental budget might also be the avenue through which the House allocates $1.55 million to the county as its share of a wealth-based grant called the disparity grant, said Donoghue, D-Washington.
Although a Senate committee approved $1.55 million as the county’s share of the disparity grant for fiscal year 2014, the issue has not made much progress in the House.
When House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, was asked about the disparity grant money for Washington County showing up in the supplemental budget, he said, “the only way we (would) consider it is because John Donoghue has been, you know, supportive of the budget ... the only way the House supports it is because of John Donoghue.”
“Voting against the budget and stating that the state spends too much money and then asking for a grant for back home … just doesn’t add up,” he said in a reference to Washington County legislators who have voted against the budget.
Busch also said the county hasn’t maxed out its local piggyback income tax and has a relatively low property tax.
Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, and the chairman of the Washington County delegation, questioned the correlation between voting for the budget and getting disparity grant money.
“Over the last 15 months I have met with various members of the House of Delegates leadership. They have never said that the Disparity Grant was tied to a vote for the budget and in fact when I brought it up they vehemently stated it was inconsequential,” Serafini wrote in an email.
Serafini has voted against the operating budget during the current session of the General Assembly. So did Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, and Del. Michael J. Hough, R-Frederick/Washington.
Bond bill issues
Donoghue said last week he was still trying to secure funding for improvements along the Eastern Boulevard corridor, including the construction of a bridge over Antietam Creek to extend Professional Court.
“It is still up in the air,” Donoghue said.
The capital budget passed by the House has set aside $85,000 for the restoration and renovation of Antietam Fire Co.’s new fire station on Potomac Avenue after a request made by Donoghue.
Another bond bill request for $300,000 by Donoghue to demolish the former Municipal Electric Light Plant in Hagerstown did not show up in the capital budget, although Donoghue said the House was looking at different options to fund the bill.