Of more general interest, bills allocating $100,000 for a new Susquehanna Hose Co. rescue boat, $500,000 for maintenance improvements at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen and $100,000 for work at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton all made it through the process. Sponsored by Mary Ann Lisanti, the lone Democrat in the local delegation, it is unlikely any of them would have made it very far had it not been for at least a little bit of support from her GOP colleagues.
As Lisanti put it: "I had the opportunity to work in a bipartisan matter with delegates and senators from all over the state, and it's been a rewarding experience."
Senate Bill 97 allows an absentee ballot cast by a voter who died before the absentee canvass to still be counted. Freshman Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, of Havre de Grace, the only Democrat in the Harford delegation, sponsored companion legislation on the House side, HB-884, which also passed.
Prior state election law allowed boards of elections to reject absentee ballots cast by voters who died before Election Day or before the canvass, and Lisanti petitioned the Harford County board to count the absentee ballot cast by her late mother, Nellie, even though she died a few days before the June 2014 primary election.
Lisanti's bill authorizing $100,000 in bond funding toward the Susquehanna Hose Company's purchase of a new fire and rescue boat was also passed, as was her bond bill authorizing $500,000 for safety, security and maintenance improvements to Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
"That is good news for the City of Aberdeen and Aberdeen taxpayers," Lisanti said Tuesday of the stadium funds.
Del. Mary Ann Lisanti introduced House Bill 1280 on March 12 to create state debt up to $200,000 in matching funds toward stadium maintenance, although city officials say the money is but a fraction of what they need to upgrade the 12-year-old minor league baseball stadium owned by the city.
Lisanti, whose southern Harford County district includes Aberdeen, said the funding bill was requested by Aberdeen as part of its legislative package prior to the start of this year's legislative session. Lisanti is serving her first year in the House of Delegates following her election last November. She previously served eight years on the Harford County Council.
She said city officials told legislators they had more than $2.5 million in improvements it hoped to make to security and safety features at the stadium, which is the home of the Aberdeen IronBirds Class A short season Orioles affiliate.
Under its agreement with Ripken Baseball, the IronBirds' owner and stadium operator, the city is responsible for major repairs and upkeep of the stadium. Major League Hall of Famer and former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr., an Aberdeen native, is Ripken Baseball's principal owner.
Although the city is in line to receive some of the revenue from the county's new lodging tax that took effect last month, Lisanti and Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett noted that money will come trickling in. City officials long championed the lodging tax as a means to pay for repairs and upgrades to the stadium, which they tout as the county's top tourism attraction.
"I don't think the 'room tax' really factors into it," Lisanti said about her bill in Annapolis.
Company leaders praised Harford Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, who represented the Havre de Grace area on the County Council until she was elected to the House in 2014.
Lisanti sponsored a bond bill for the boat funding on the House side, and Sen. Robert Cassilly and his two fellow Harford senators sponsored a companion bill on the Senate side.
Lisanti said the boat funding was part of a capital budget reconciliation bill approved by the House, although the bill still must be signed by Gov. Larry Hogan, and then the money will be available when the 2015-2016 fiscal year begins July 1.
Final work on the new budget is running behind schedule and with the General Assembly session scheduled to end April 13, Hogan issued an executive order this week extending the session for at least 10 days for legislators to complete the budget.
"It's so important to public safety in the Upper Bay," Lisanti said of the new boat.
Lisanti noted legislators typically don't support bond funding for fire and rescue boats because other sources are available. They supported the Havre de Grace boat funding, however, "because they realized the significance of the response time in the Upper Bay."
Del. Mary Ann Lisanti did not understand the reasoning behind the bill being “bad for business” as stated by Cooper, echoing Bereano.
“Continuing to legislate in such detail, within the operations of a business… it does create a perception if not a reality about the business climate,” said Bereano, fearing that the detailed regulation would discourage new business in Maryland.
“It’s shocking to me in 2015 that we are having this conversation,” said Lisanti.