Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he does not expect Sen. Lisa A. Gladden to be in her seat Wednesday when the General Assembly reconvenes for its 2017 session.
The Northwest Baltimore Democrat, serving her fourth term in the Senate, missed the second half of last year's session as symptoms of her multiple sclerosis worsened.
Miller said Gladden is represented by a lawyer who has been in contact with Senate officials. He said officials have her retirement arrangements in the works and "everything she needs to have an honorable departure" after a great career.
Gladden has not returned emails in recent weeks, and her voice mail account is full. Messages left for her attorney have not been returned.
Miller has avoided commenting on the apparent Senate vacancy in recent weeks. But on Tuesday he spoke of a need for Baltimore to have full representation.
"We need a person in the seat to vote on key issues," Miller said.
The Senate president emphasized "the decision she makes is hers," but said he hopes there will be a resolution within a matter of days.
He said the Senate Finance Committee, on which Gladden sits, faces critical issues and needs all its members.
Gladden has lived with multiple sclerosis for more than two decades, but until recent years was able to keep the symptoms under relative control. She attended the Senate last year in a wheelchair, but eventually she stopped traveling to Annapolis.
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who chairs the Baltimore Senate delegation, said she has not seen Gladden in person since a memorial service for Gladden's mother, who died last August.
Conway said she has been trying to see Gladden recently, but has been told by a caretaker to try another time.
Baltimore's legislative representation has declined in recent decades as the population has fallen. The city now has only five districts entirely within its borders.
"We need to have someone in her seat to represent her district during this legislative session," Conway said.
Del. Sandy Rosenberg, Gladden's longtime 41st District colleague, emphasized that Gladden's health comes first.
"We all wish her recovery and that she makes the decision that's in her best interests and secondarily in the best interests of the people she represents," he said.