Annapolis is filling up. The 90 day annual 2012 session starts January 11th. The Governor, 47 Senators, and 141 Delegates are all prepping and preening in anticipation of the noon gavel signaling the start of the 432nd session of the Maryland General Assembly.
February 2nd, “Ground Hogs Day”, may have been a more appropriate start date
because so many issues are likely to be repeated from the 2011 Session. The Governor’s priority issues, gay marriage, wind energy, increasing taxes for transportation are all issues from 2011 that failed. The $billion+ deficit is also a problem repeated from last year.
One big issue that is new to 2012 is the legislative redistricting. The placement of the lines every 10 years affects who gets elected. The debate and consternation over the “maps” will occupy a lot of the legislature’s time and must be finalized within the first 45 days of the session.
So far the proposed changes for Anne Arundel County are less dramatic than what was expected, though Severna Park is taking it on the chin. After 10 years of a mostly unified Severna Park, the Governors Redistricting Advisory Committee has proposed diving our community into three parts, 1) Northeastern SP going with Pasadena into a new district “31B”, 2) Southern SP being added to most of the Broadneck Peninsula to form a new district “33A”, and 3) the rest is staying with most of the current district that includes Millersville, Crownsville and Crofton but renamed district “33B”.
Severna Park’s influence will be diminished if divided and I plan on submitting an amendment and I will fight to re-unify Severna Park. Please take the time to contact the Governor’s Office and the office of Speaker Busch on this important matter (switchboard 410-841-3000).
Also new for 2012 has been a string of stinging audits faulting state government for waste and abuse in public spending. From child support to state highways our state government is far from the well oil machine that many of our leaders would like us to believe. The timing is particularly embarrassing because many new taxes were justified by the growing need of these departments, only to find out how much they mis-spent.
As discussed in my December column, an audit turned up $38 million in unspent funds for the developmentally disable after the dire need by the department was used to justify a $84 million increase in the alcohol taxes. Moreover the Governor has made increasing gas and other transportation taxes a priority only to find out how much money the department has been wasting in amateur contract procedures that have wasted millions in transportation funding.
Likewise the state mandates for child support were dramatically increased because the department claimed a growing hardship only to find out that they were among the worst in the nation in collections and had failed to do even the simplest tasks to help many of the states poorest children. Medicaid which pays for health care for the poor was found to be paying benefits for several hundred people who had already died, and were listed by the state as having been deceased.
These audits and others were released just recently and will prompt many heated discussions over the next three months. For more information on these topics or any other questions please contact my office 410-841-3406 or E-mail me at McConkey@Writeme.com