Cumberland Times-News

January 18, 2013

Delegation backs bomb threat bill

Some constituent-requested measures tabled for time being

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Members of the District 1 legislative delegation met Friday and decided to back bills that would allow juveniles age 16 and over to be charged as adults for bomb threats, as well as supporting a measure that would extend hours for liquor sales at Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort, among other legislation.

They also requested more information on some matters and decided not to back some constituent-requested legislation.

The delegation unanimously supported allowing extended hours for alcohol service at Rocky Gap at the request of its owners and Allegany County commissioners.

“In order to be competitive with gaming operations in neighboring states, and to provide the facility at Rocky Gap with the flexibility to serve patrons during operational hours within the hotel, restaurant or an adjacent gaming facility, we are requesting that the state consider the creation of a new beverage license specifically for gaming facilities,” commissioners wrote in a formal request to the delegation.  

County Attorney Bill Rudd has said he hoped a law could be crafted allowing the casino and restaurants within the gaming facility to be open Monday through Saturday until 4 a.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Monday.

The current alcohol sales law governing the county is too restrictive for a casino, commissioners said.

The delegation consists of Sen. George Edwards and Delegates Wendell Beitzel, LeRoy Myers Jr. and Kevin Kelly. The meeting was open to the media via conference call.

Legislation to crack down on school bomb threats also got a unanimous thumbs-up from delegation members.

The crackdown would add bomb threats to a list of crimes for which juveniles could be charged as adults.

The delegation agreed to use the general term “bomb threats” rather than limit the bill to bomb threats aimed at educational institutions.

The bill would limit adult charges to juveniles at least 16 years of age. There have been numerous bomb threats at local secondary schools in the past few months.

Delegation members didn’t think it would be possible to pass a bill reducing the age limit for prosecution as an adult for a bomb threat to under the age of 16.

Commissioners also heard a presentation by Kevin Shaffer of LaVale who traveled to Annapolis for the meeting.

Shaffer wanted the delegation to introduce legislation to make the use of a common four-letter expletive during public meetings a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.

Shaffer has attended county commission and board of education meetings displaying a book that prominently uses the word as its title.

Shaffer has used the word during a county commission meeting before commissioners gaveled the meeting to a close, according to witnesses, and was barred from using the word at a board of education meeting.

Shaffer maintains it’s a free speech issue and cited court cases that he said support the use of the word without penalty.

 “I just find that totally inappropriate,” Kelly said. “I would oppose introduction of any bill ... no matter what the attorney general’s opinion says,” Kelly said.

Beitzel also said he would not support legislation “of this kind.” Myers and Edwards also opposed introducing any sort of bill on Shaffer’s proposal.

No members of the delegation made a motion to introduce the legislation. They did agree to ask for an attorney general’s opinion on the matter.

Members of the delegation asked for the opinions of Allegany County commissioners and the board of education on a proposal regarding community schools by Thomas Marsh.

Edwards was also re-elected as the delegation’s chairman.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.