General Assembly Convenes

The Maryland General Assembly was gaveled into session last week with issues ranging from gas and flush taxes to same-sex marriage to education. Michael Busch, who will become the longest-serving House speaker in Maryland history, says there’s a lot of resistance to either a 10-cent or 15-cent increase in the gas tax, and he is not sure that will pass. Busch says it is more likely there will be a hike in the so-called flush tax because there has been bi-partisan support in the past, and more money is needed to improve water treatment and sewage plants. On same-sex marriage, the speaker says it will be a close vote even with Governor Martin O’Malley urging passage.

Governor Martin O’Malley asked lawmakers for $350-million in school construction funding in the next budget, a $39-million increase from what’s in this year’s budget. Busch says he is proud of the job the state has done when it comes to education and believes the state will continue to invest wisely in that area.

The House Republican Caucus re-elected Delegate Anthony O’Donnell to be minority leader in the Maryland House of Delegates. The caucus also announced that Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, R-Talbot, has been re-elected minority whip. O’Donnell, who represents Calvert County, has been a delegate since 1995. Haddaway-Riccio has served in the House since 2003.