Prince Frederick, MD – The Calvert County Commissioners discussed legislative requests proposed for the 2016 Maryland General Assembly session. The proposals were discussed during the board’s Tuesday, Nov. 17 meeting.

Two of the more provocative measures involved term limits for county commissioners and a possible tax on medical cannabis, should that venture gain approval in Calvert County next year.

Commissioners’ Vice President Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R – District 3] noted the issue of term limits was researched by staff. It was revealed that Maryland’s Constitution currently does not have a mechanism for establishing staggered terms for boards of county commissioners. Slaughenhoupt indicated staggering the terms would help avoid a scenario which might mean the county has a board of five inexperienced county commissioners following an election.

Commissioner Mike Hart [R – District 1] (pictured above), who is serving in the first year of his first term, agreed with Slaughenhoupt. “You don’t want five Mike Harts,” said Hart. “There is a learning curve.”

Slaughenhoupt moved to not support the measure for county commissioner term limits, a motion Hart seconded.

Commissioner Tom Hejl [R – At large] opined that the chances of the citizens electing five new commissioners were “kind of remote,” and furthermore, “we’re not that important.”

Commissioner Pat Nutter [R – District 2] (pictured right) recalled being asked about term limits during his first campaign for office in 2010. “People know when you’ve had enough,” he said. “Voters make the term limits themselves.” However, Nutter agreed with Hejl that county government staff does a great job of preparing newly elected commissioners for their terms. He added, “I think we’re at the point where we should have term limits.”

Commissioners’ President Steve Weems [R – At large] proclaimed himself “an advocate of term limits.” After Slaughenhoupt’s motion died on a 2 – to- 3 vote, Weems made the motion to limit individuals to three consecutive four-year terms. The measure would allow individuals to seek a seat on the board after a four-year hiatus. Slaughenhoupt and Hart maintained their support for not moving the term limit measure forward.

The commissioners unanimously supported requesting the state collect a medical cannabis tax for any grower, processor or dispenser located in Calvert County.

“If it [medical cannabis] comes here, we have to see some benefit,” said Hejl.

“I don’t like it but if it’s shoved down our throats,” Hart said, agreeing that medical marijuana sanctioned by the state ought to provide a monetary benefit to the county if an operation is licensed within the jurisdiction.

County Attorney John Norris noted that medical cannabis is being taxed in those states that already have it. He added that the proposal is to request the state impose and collect a tax and distribute money from it to the county.

Slaughenhoupt indicated the state’s measures, such as allowing the growing and selling of marijuana for medicinal purposes is onerous to local law enforcement and imposing a tax “seems appropriate.” He suggested the tax receipts be dedicated to public safety.

The commissioners will present their 2016 legislative requests to the Calvert County Delegation to Annapolis Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Calvert Pines Senior Center.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com