Washington County delegation members said Tuesday they want more advocacy on legislative issues from the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.
Four legislators — Del. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, Sen. George Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, Del. LeRoy Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany and Sen. Christopher Shank, R-Washington — were at the morning breakfast meeting at Hager Hall, the first in a series of prelegislative meetings with local groups the delegation held throughout the day.
At least two of the legislators said they wanted more advocacy and involvement from the chamber when it comes to legislative issues.
“I don’t feel that we have the cooperation, and I am going to be very blunt this morning, of the chamber. I don’t think we are on the same page. I wish we could get there,” Myers said.
He asked for chamber officials to be present at some of the meetings at Annapolis. Myers suggested that the lobbyist hired by the local lobbying coalition should be present at the weekly meetings of the Washington County delegation during the session.
Myers said one of his priorities would be the revitalization of downtown Hagerstown.
Shank, too, asked the chamber to do more.
“We need you to show up, we need you to testify, we need you to write, we need you to email,” Shank said.
In the past, Shank said, when the delegation has asked for support on specific issues, the response from the chamber has been weak and indecisive.
He said he would like to hear from the chamber directly about specific bills and issues.
Brien Poffenberger, president of Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said after the meeting that “we saw this as really healthy dialogue. We are excited, we are happy ... we are happy that the delegation shows up ... is able to attend meetings with us and we look forward to working together with them.”
When asked about the criticism from some of the legislators, Poffenberger did not answer directly, saying “we are really looking forward to working with them.”
Serafini, the chairman of the county delegation, said it was important to have open and honest conversations and work out differences.
“...because when we go to Annapolis we have to speak in one voice,” he said.