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Votes

This Week in Potomac

Slots in the Senate

The controversial slots bill passed the Maryland Senate on Feb. 27 by a 27-18 margin, and Potomac’s senators were split on the measure.

Rob Garagiola (D-15) voted in favor of allowing slot and video lottery machines into Maryland. He also voted in favor of the bill last year.

While he stated that slot machines were not his first choice for overcoming the state’s budget problems, he didn’t see other options. “We really don’t have a revenue source for maintaining the Thornton funding,” Garagiola said.

Garagiola said that the governor’s threat of vetoing a tax increase leaves the legislature with few options but to allow the machines, or make drastic cuts. “We’re going to be decimating the entire budget without a revenue source,” he said.

He also pointed to information that many Maryland residents already go outside the state to gamble, and that about half of the projected users of slot machines would be from outside Maryland. “We’re only talking about 21 percent of new gamblers from Maryland who would be going,” Garagiola said.

Sen. Brian Frosh (D-16) voted against the bill. He could not be reached for comment before The Almanac’s press deadline.

Weapons Ban Stymied

The assault weapons ban proposed by Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-15) met with opposition in committee last week when a senator from Prince George’s County announced that he would not be voting for the bill.

The ban would continue the federal ban on assault weapons which is set to expire in September. It is also being discussed at the federal level.

Sen. John Gianetti Jr. (D-21) announced that he does not think the bill would become law and will not support it. Garagiola said that he will continue to try to pass the bill. “We’re going to keep fighting,” he said.

New Schools Website

The Montgomery County Public Schools have changed the name of their website. Residents may now visit www.mongtomeryschoolsmd.org. School officials hope that the new site will be easier for residents to remember.

The old website www.mcps.k12.md.us will continue to function. Websites for individual schools will also continue to function

High School Artists

From March 15-31, there will be the annual art competition and exhibition for high school students from Maryland's Eighth Congressional District at Strathmore Hall Arts Center.

The winning entry from congressional districts across the country will be displayed for one year in the United States Capitol. In addition, the runners-up in the district competition will have their work displayed in the offices of U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8).

Students submitting entries must live in the Eighth Congressional District. All of Potomac and Bethesda fall into this district.

Artwork may be delivered to the Strathmore Hall Arts Center, Visual Arts on Friday, March 12 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 13 from 10:00 a.m.-noon.

Strathmore Hall is located at 10701 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda.

All students who wish to participate must complete a "Participating Student Information/Release Form." This form, along with additional information about the competition, can be obtained by contacting Van Hollen’s Rockville district office at 301-424-3501.

An awards ceremony and reception to honor all participants in this competition will be held at Strathmore Hall on March 15 from 7-8:30 p.m.

Comments Sought

The Board of Education has requested community comment on a revised policy on residency, tuition, and enrollment.

The revised policy sets forth the criteria for determining residency before a student is enrolled in the Montgomery County Public Schools and establishes an enrollment process for all eligible Montgomery County school-age children. The policy stipulates that tuition rates for out-of-county students will be established annually by the Board of Education.

The policy can be viewed on-line at http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/info/pdf/DraftPolicyJED.pdf.

Individuals who wish to provide comments should respond in writing by April 20. All responses should be sent to the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, MD 20850. The responses will be shared with the Board of Education.

Neighborhood Beautification Grants Available

Keep Montgomery County Beautiful (KMCB) is offering grants on a competitive basis to any nonprofit community association to fund beautification projects. KMCB will pay 50 percent of the total cost of a beautification project, up to $500.

KMCB provides funds through the Beautification Grant Program to help improve the appearance of communities throughout Montgomery County. Neighborhoods use the grants to plant flowers, shrubs or trees; landscape a community entrance way or traffic circle; convert weed fields to grass areas; screen highways; or beautiful schools.

Grants must be used for new projects that improve community aesthetics. Construction projects, general maintenance and projects that have already been completed do not qualify.

Volunteer hours are part of a community's contribution. Volunteer hours spent on the project are valued at $5.50 per hour.

KMCB reviews grant applications in the spring and in the fall. Applications should be submitted by April 1 or August 1. Over the past five years, KMCB has helped 25 communities to fund projects.

To apply for a beautification grant, contact Tom Pogue, community outreach manager, at 240-777-7155, or by e-mail at dpwt.outreach@montgomerycountymd.gov.