Lawmakers also pick Del. Pippy as their chairman.
Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick County Legislators to Annapolis gathered in Saturday at Winchester Hall In Frederick to listen to requests for the 2020 Maryland General Assembly. The delegation, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, unanimously chose Delegate Jesse Pippy (R) as their new chairman.
“I want to first thank my colleagues for their support,” Pippy said after he took over as chairman. “Obviously, we’re going to put the emphasis on supporting the county, the 260,000 residents that we all represent, which now almost exactly is split between Republicans and Democrats. So we are a bipartisan county represented by a bipartisan delegation.”
State Senator Ron Young (D) was chosen as Vice Chairman.
Representatives from the Frederick County Liquor Board presented four bill requests for the 2020 Session. Chairperson Debbie Burrell said one piece of legislation would cover movie theaters which serve alcohol to their patrons. “This would adjust the current law to remove the 45-minute time frame before the performance, and also allow purchase inside the theater at the seats,” she said.
Senator Young had some concerns about that. “If you want to allow banquets and the banquet happens to be in the theater area, I’m okay. But I don’t want someone coming in during a movie and selling beer to people in the seats,” he said.
“Number one, it would be a real disturbance in terms of watching the movie,” Young continued. “And two, it’s dark. Are they going to carry a flashlight and disturb things by checking the I.D? ”
Penny Buzzard, the Coordinator for the Liquor Board, said this bill request comes from the law firm of Miles and Stockbridge on behalf of a client. “They had a request from a client and trey didn’t tell us the client. It’s confidential,” she said. “They have a kiosk system that they want to do where they actually do the ordering from a kiosk at the seats.”
Legislators suggested some changes be made to the bill before it’s introduced. Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D) said she had no problems with allowing patrons to drink alcoholic beverages while enjoying a movie. “I don’t have a problem with inside the theater. It’s at the seats. Maybe even back of the theater. But your theater experience shouldn’t be interrupted by somebody selling anything,” she said.
Another bill requested by the Liquor Board would cover consumption of alcoholic beverages by patrons of the Weinberg Center for the Performing Arts. “Under Section 20-1015, It would remove ‘consumed only in the central rotunda or lobby,’ and change it to allow consumption in the entire theater,” said Burrell.
A request to draft a bill to allow the sale of coffee in public schools also came before the Legislative Delegation. J.P. Smith, a special education teacher at Frederick High School, says it would benefit special education students by providing them with skills they can use when they get out of school and go to work. “My students are non-diploma bound so they won’t receive a high school diploma,” he said. “So a huge part of what we try to do is provide them with job skills, vocational skills, both in the community and in the school,” he said.
Smith says these students will sell the coffee in the school store. “Another part of coffee is all these tasks are stocking, clerk-type jobs that our students are going to be able to do when they graduate from us. So this is something that is very routine for them, and is consistent,” he said.
And it also gives special educations opportunities to interact with other students in their schools, says Smith.
“Last year, we started selling coffee to our students. We didn’t know it was illegal to do,” said Smith. “It went very well.”
If this bill passes, it will only apply to Frederick County, says Board of Education member Joy Schaefer, who introduced the legislative request to the Delegation.
Lawmakers also heard from Melanie Cox, the President of Advocates for the Aging. She urged the Delegation to support increased funding for Para-Transit, which is provided by TransIT of Frederick County to meet the transportation needs of low income and frail elderly. Cox says these seniors need this service to go to medical appointments, shopping and social activities at places like the Senior Center on Taney Avenue.
“Last year, the last data I saw was that Para Transit was not able to fill 700 requests from seniors; 700,” she said.
The request for increased funding for Para Transit is contained in County Executive Jan Gardner’s 2020 Legislative Package as a position statement.
The 2020 Maryland General Assembly begins its 90-day session on Wednesday, January 8th Pippy says the first Frederick County Delegation meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 10th.
By Kevin McManus