General Assembly Leaders Forecast Challenges Ahead

Following tradition, Senate President Mike Miller, Speaker of the House Michael Busch, Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, and the Governor’s Legislative and Policy Advisor Joe Bryce, addressed the MACo membership on Friday, January 6 during the MACo winter conference.  Each speaker shared their views on issues to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session.

As reported by Marylandreporter.com:

Senate President Mike Miller told county officials from across Maryland that he wants to expand casino gambling, increase the gas tax and push some of the costs of state pensions onto the counties.

The Senate President also said that he would work with the counties on PlanMaryland and septics, and commented that septics are not going to be banned.  He also expressed his willingness to work with MACo on efforts to seek greater accountability and oversight of school board budgets.

Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin “gave no encouragement that any Republicans would support any tax increases, but continued his theme that Gov. Martin O’Malley was continuing a “war on rural Maryland.”

He stated that “banning septics was not about the Chesapeake Bay, but about land use”, and that Maryland does not need to be the first state to implement costly Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP).  With respect to the gas tax, the Minority Leader commented that the State needed to be accountable for its current dollars before raising more.

Speaker of the House Mike Busch followed the Senate Minority Leader.

Busch continued to defend the spending choices to increase aid education, particularly to rural counties. He said Pipkin’s attempt to pit the urban counties against the rural areas was the wrong message.

Speaking last, the Governor’s Chief Legislative and Policy Advisor also spoke positively about the policy choices made by the Administration and Democratic leadership of the General Assembly. He said that the WIP implementation was extended to 2025 and that they will discuss septics again.  He also said that we will see infrastructure spending.

When asked what to expect during the session with respect to teacher pensions, President Miller responded, “We will look at it again…we’ll take fiscal concerns into consideration when discussing a shift.”
Coverage of this session can also be found in the Washington Post.

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