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Winners and losers in Maryland’s 2018 legislative session

WINNERS

Del. Meagan Simonaire

The first-term Anne Arundel County Republican, speaking on behalf of a bill prohibiting the practice of conversion therapy for LGBT minors, told members her own story about how her parents suggested the therapy nearly a year ago when she revealed she was bisexual. Her father, Sen. Bryan Simonaire, a Republican who represents the same district, voted against the bill days earlier. Meagan Simonaire announced last year she would not seek re-election.

Sen. Jim Brochin

The Baltimore County senator is leaving to run for Baltimore County executive, and he walks out having passed a measure allowing the introduction of evidence of prior sexual predatory acts in criminal cases. Brochin has been working on this legislation almost as long as he’s been in the legislature.

Gov. Larry Hogan

He’s still popular in Maryland heading into a difficult election year for Republicans. He’s disciplined and savvy in the ways of politics and social media and less like Donald Trump than Democrats want to portray him. On top of that, Hogan ended the last session of his first term with some legitimate bipartisan wins on which to hang his hat.

Del. Ariana B. Kelly (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Del. Ariana B. Kelly (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Del. Ariana B. Kelly

The Montgomery County Democrat was the lead sponsor on legislation that strengthens the way the General Assembly handles and investigates claims of sexual harassment and misconduct — despite some opposition from legislative leaders.

Speaker Michael E. Busch

Last year the longtime leader of the House was deteriorating in front of his chamber due to a severe health issue that required a living-donor liver transplant last summer. Busch this year appeared healthier and prepared for the coming campaign.

Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin

The Baltimore County Democrat and chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee faced strong opposition from groups that called him racist and his omnibus violent crime legislation “genocide.” And while it didn’t survive in one piece, a collective package that did pass contained many of Zirkin’s proposals.

LOSERS

Gil Genn

The longtime lobbyist and former legislator became the face of both the stereotypical handsy male figure in Annapolis and the poster boy for the #MeToo movement in the State House. Video of his incident involving Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan allowed supporters and detractors to claim vindication.

Comptroller Peter Franchot

The state’s Democratic tax collector continued to rankle members of his own party by siding with Hogan and picking fights with Democrats. Lawmakers killed his pet issue, craft brewing legislation, gelded the Board of Public Works’ oversight of school construction and launched a study to see if his office should keep overseeing the liquor industry. One consolation: Franchot has an easy path to re-election.

Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks

He ended the 2017 session with a federal indictment for bribery and corruption and followed it up in 2018 by pleading guilty to some of those charges and resigning from the Senate.

Some Maryland taxpayers

Legislators and the governor promised to hold state taxpayers harmless from state tax increases resulting from the federal tax overhaul. Instead, more than 20 percent of taxpayers will see their state bills go up, with $300 million of those revenues earmarked for future budget issues and an expected increase in education funding.

Craft beer industry

Brewers’ efforts to ease restrictions found both a champion and a problem in one man — Comptroller Peter Franchot. Even a package of bills that attempted to implement separate pieces of Franchot’s plan were unceremoniously killed in committee by Democrats who loathe the comptroller.

Sports betting

Sports betting at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 2013. Nevada currently is the only state where single-game wagering is legal. But should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold a New Jersey’s law legalizing such betting at the state’s racetracks and casinos, it could lead to a nationwide repeal of a federal sports betting ban. (DepositPhotos/NickNick)

Sports betting at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 2013. (DepositPhotos/NickNick)

Fans of sports wagering were anticipating a favorable Supreme Court decision in the coming weeks and the introduction of legal sports betting in Maryland. It was not to be, as continued differences between the House and Senate on gambling once again proved to be the issue’s Achilles’ heel.

 

 


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