Daunting Task, as Usual, Ahead for Legislature

The Baltimore Sun today offers a quick overview of the breadth of unresolved issues before the Maryland General Assembly, where:

On paper there’s much to do: Senators and delegates have introduced more than 2,500 bills but a mere 46 have passed in both chambers. Still hanging are measures that would toughen supervision of sex offenders, reform the tenure process for public school teachers and determine whether drivers can use hand-held cell phones.

From their discussion of the remaining budget issues:

Lawmakers will meet in every nook and cranny of the capital complex to smooth over differences between House and Senate versions of bills, and then rush to the floor so compromise versions can be passed.

The most critical conference committee – where House and Senate versions of bills are reconciled – is set to begin this afternoon to discuss the state’s $13 billion spending plan. The Senate did not cut nearly as deeply as some leaders there had hoped – in the end their snips came in around the same level as the $125 million House reduction.

Nevertheless, big fights loom. Representatives from the two chambers will have to reach agreement on a proposal to shift responsibility for teacher pensions to local governments, a move that would pull millions of dollars from local coffers in years to come. They also must decide how much the state should take from an obscure account where local income taxes are collected – at the moment the two chambers differ by $100 million.

The Washington Post also has an overview of budgetary differences, from its Sunday edition.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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