In Annapolis, bipartisanship in the air — for now

Leaders, Hogan pledge to work together, but they’re apart on issues

Daily Record Business Writer//January 14, 2015

In Annapolis, bipartisanship in the air — for now

Leaders, Hogan pledge to work together, but they’re apart on issues

By Bryan P. Sears

//Daily Record Business Writer

//January 14, 2015

ANNAPOLIS — If only every day of the 90-day General Assembly session could be like opening day.

Maryland’s 188 legislators, including nearly five dozen newly elected members, came to the State House amid promises of bipartisanship from Democratic leaders and Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan.

Hogan, who spoke to both the House of Delegates and the Senate, promised to “sit down together and reach across the aisle and come up with common-sense, bipartisan solutions.”

“It’s what the voters want,” Hogan said. “It’s what they voted for, and it’s what they deserve.”

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley and Brown are expected to address legislators during sessions on Thursday.

Hogan started his day in a meeting with U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski before heading to the State House to greet legislators with Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, the man he defeated in November.

Hogan’s meet-and-greet impressed at least one Democrat.

Del. Curt Anderson, D-Baltimore City, said he was impressed by Hogan’s personal message for each member he met, including a reference to having watched Anderson when he was a local television news anchor.

“This guy is good,” Anderson said of Hogan.

Annapolis will see its share of changes this year. Nearly one-third of the House is Republican, and a total of 58 members are new to the chamber. In the Senate, 11 members enter their freshman term.

Despite the changes, some things remained the same.

In the House of Delegates, Del. Michael E. Busch was re-elected Speaker of the House — his 13th term, making him the longest to serve in that position in the history of that chamber

Busch, in his opening address to his chamber, called on members of both parties to work together. Each member received a small replica Maryland flag, which Busch explained was cobbled together by opposing armies from Maryland in the Civil War era.

“Here, every four years we bring both sides together in that same symbolic gesture that the Maryland flag represents,” Busch said.

But the top Democrat in the House, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., said that members should focus their efforts on protecting funding for K-12 education, making higher education more accessible and protecting the environment. He hinted that projects like the Purple Line rail proposal could help bring more jobs to Maryland.

All of these issues will likely be part of the conversation related to cutting the state budget after Hogan releases his spending plan next week, one day after he is sworn in.

Across the hall, Miller began his 29th year in that position. He is the longest-serving Senate president in the country.

Miller, who presides over a chamber generally seen as more moderate than the House, also called on senators to work together with Hogan.

“I promise we’re going to work across the aisle, coming together, working together and staying together. We have a common bond,” Miller said. “We love our state, we love our constituents and that love will bring us together working on behalf of that state so that on April 15, the residents of the state will say we’ve done a good job.”

Following the opening ceremonies, Miller told reporters the good feelings would last “for a long period of time.”

Sen. J.B. Jennings, R-Baltimore and Harford Counties and the minority leader, said he, too, believed Hogan’s honeymoon would last longer than that of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the state’s last Republican governor.

“(Ehrlich’s) priority was slots and that was always the head butt (in the House) where the Speaker was morally opposed to it,” Jennings said. “(Hogan’s) number one priority is the budget. Everyone here knows that this is an issue that has to be dealt with.”

But Jennings acknowledged that Hogan’s budget priorities will likely cause issues with some legislators.

“There are going to be some differences,” Jennings said. “People are going to try to protect the programs that are close to their hearts.”


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