- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Starbucks on Church Circle in Annapolis ran out of pastries by 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, a sign that lawmakers, the staffs that serve them and the lobbyists who try to woo them were back to work.
But the first day of the 433rd session of the Maryland General Assembly involved few official duties, other than electing the leadership in the Senate and House of Delegates and listening to speeches by visiting dignitaries, including Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and some of Maryland’s congressional delegation.
Pre-filed bills also were introduced in both chambers; 87 in the Senate and 60 in the House. There was reference to the long legislative season of 2012.
“It seems like we just left here,” said Del. Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore), as she accepted the post of speaker pro tem for the 10th time, opening the legislative session.
It’s been less than five months since the legislature adjourned the second of two special sessions in 2012. Under normal circumstances, the legislators part ways in mid-April and don’t see each other again until January.
After being chosen unanimously as speaker of the house for the 11th time, Del. Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) spoke about how he spends the evening before each session begins — as he said he did Tuesday night — by sitting in various seats around the House chamber.
“I’ve even sat in Del. O’Donnell’s seat,” Busch said, referring to Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s).
The Senate unanimously re-elected President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert, Prince George’s) and President Pro Tem Nathaniel J. McFadden (D-Baltimore), each of whom received a glowing introduction from colleagues.
Quoting Miller’s mother, Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) said the president was “less conservative than he gives the appearance of being,” drawing laughter from the chamber, and explained that Miller began his career in Annapolis as a bill drafter in 1967 before realizing he had what it takes to be a lawmaker.
After being sworn in for his 27th year as president, Miller, a history buff, evoked Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. to illustrate the importance of “people of good will coming together.”
“I’m very proud of the people whose shoulders we stand upon, and I’m confident the year 2013 is going to be a very productive year,” Miller said.
Prompting laughter among delegates, O’Malley lauded the “creative tension” between the two chambers as that which “allows us to do the people’s work.”
Some blame the tension between the chambers for the General Assembly’s failure to pass a budget in the 2012 regular session.
Miller also offered a preview of upcoming policy debates earlier Wednesday, telling Baltimore radio host Marc Steiner that O’Malley’s offshore wind proposal would be approved by the legislature and informing reporters later in the day that repeal of the death penalty likely would earn the approval of lawmakers and wind up going before voters in 2014.
“I’m confident that it will [be on the ballot],” Miller said. “It’s a matter of great concern to many.”
O’Malley, who favors abolishing the death penalty, said this week that he believes Senate support for repeal is within reach.
One new lawmaker was on hand for the start of the session — Del. Alonzo T. Washington (D-Prince George’s), the replacement for Justin D. Ross, who retired in November.
But he wasn’t the only new face. Lawmakers including Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery), Del. Michael J. Hough (R-Frederick) and Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore) arrived toting their infant children, who sat with them in the chamber.