The Harford County Delegation voted 7 to 1 last Friday to keep legislation proposed by County Executive David Craig on track which would create an Infrastructure and Facilities Capital Project Authority to fund local projects. Harford County’s state senators had voted unanimously to withdraw the senate version of the bill earlier in the week.
Chairman of the Harford County Delegation J.B. Jennings had indicated that he thought the delegation would follow the lead of the Harford County senators and vote to withdraw the bill, but in a phone interview, Delegate Susan McComas (Dist. 35B) said she made the argument at the Friday delegation meeting to allow the bill to move forward. McComas said that the bill already had a hearing scheduled and unlike the delegation, the County Executive was elected by the entire county and so the delegation ought to “let him make his case.”
County Executive Craig had proposed a broad bill to allow for a variety of projects including parks and recreation facilities and a cultural arts center for the county. Delegation members had offered amendments that would have limited the scope of the projects eligible for funding under the quasi-public revenue authority. But McComas noted that since the bill created enabling legislation, it didn’t matter if the bill was broad because it could be amended later by Harford County Council. She said “This way, we won’t have to take it back to the General Assembly.”
McComas also said she didn’t want to miss the opportunity to pass legislation this year, saying that “time is of the essence” especially in light of BRAC. McComas added, “I thought it was important”. In the end, all but Delegate Rick Impallaria (Dist.7) voted to allow the bill to move forward.
Senator Barry Glassman, who is also chair of the Harford County Senate, said he voted to withdraw the bill after receiving a letter from the Harford County Council outlining their position on the issue. The following is from the text of that letter from Council President Billy Boniface to Senator Barry Glassman and Delegate J.B. Jennings dated March 3, 2009:
The Council is responding to your request for our position on the proposed legislation by the County Executive authorizing Harford County to establish an Infrastructure and Facilities Capital Project Authority.
In light of the fact that so many amendments have been added and there appears not to be a consensus of the Delegation, County Executive, and the County Council on many provisions of the bill, we propose that the legislation be tabled for this General Assembly Session. This would allow for the opportunity to study the issue over the summer and deal with the concerns that have been expressed by the Delegation. There are some merits to what the County Executive has asked for and it is important that we further review the request. If the Delegation chooses this course of action, the Council is willing to work with you towards a resolution.
The Harford County Infrastructure and Facilities Capital Project Authority bill (HB 1185) has a hearing scheduled for today at 1PM in the House Appropriations Committee.