House Speaker Michael E. Busch
Busch turned 71 a week before the start of his 32nd year in the legislature. This is his first session back after a living donor liver transplant. Will Busch rebound to his old form? His future could affect the political plans of others, such as Dels. Dereck E. Davis and Maggie McIntosh.
Comptroller Peter Franchot
The state’s chief tax collector and liquor law enforcer isn’t satisfied with taking on members of his own party this year. For the 2018 session, he’ll also take on the traditionally powerful alcohol industry in his quest to ease rules on the craft brewing industry.
The #metoo movement that has taken hold in Hollywood, D.C. and other state capitals has lawmakers and lobbyists here holding their breath. A story in VOX.com in which a former Washington Post reporter alleges sexual harassment on the part of three unnamed lawmakers — two Democrats and a Republican — has only heightened the focus on this issue.
Del. Mary Beth Corrozza
The first-term Eastern Shore Republican has branded herself as a strong Republican voice in the House Appropriations Committee and is setting herself up to challenge incumbent Sen. Jim Mathias in the 2018 election.
Sen. John C. Astle
The six-term Anne Arundel County Democrat unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Annapolis and all but announced his retirement at the end of the 2017 session. Does he reverse course and seek re-election, and, if so, does Sarah Elfreth withdraw or set up a generational battle?
The Baltimore lawyer and former judge has emerged as a key player in the state’s nascent medical marijuana industry. There’s an opportunity for him to be a strong voice as the Legislative Black Caucus seeks to tweak the program to make more licenses available for minority-owned businesses.
The veteran lobbyist now represents the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and will be the tip of the spear in an effort to sustain Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of paid sick leave. The retooled chamber, under the leadership of Christine Ross, looks to have a stronger voice in Annapolis.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.’s longtime chief of staff is now the head of the Department of Legislative Services. Gruber is a known entity around the State House and considered to be one of the few who can push back against lawmakers as her predecessor did.
William “Brit” Kirwan
There won’t be any recommendations just yet from the commission led by the former University System of Maryland chancellor that is examining how to adequately fund public education in Maryland. But the Kirwan panel’s work looms like a shadow over this session.
The former state senator had spent the first three years of Gov. Larry Hogan’s term as one of the governor’s most trusted advisers. Now, he’s been asked to replace Dennis Schrader as health secretary after Schrader’s nomination ran afoul of Senate Democrats. Not an easy job.