The Maryland General Assembly session that opens this week (“9 key issues that Maryland lawmakers will address during the 2019 General Assembly session,” Jan. 4) should present a striking contrast to the U.S. Congress. As many as 3,000 bills will be introduced; each will receive a public hearing. The governor will put a state budget on the table that will be scrutinized by multiple legislative subcommittees over many weeks. By the session's end in April a balanced budget will pass. State government will remain open throughout.
Debate may be heated at times but will generally focus on what will do the most good or the least harm to Maryland citizens. Can the budget sustain billions more for education, as recommended by the Kirwan Commission? Will ultimate approval decrease funding for other state priorities like mental health and addiction services, or can a new funding source like sports betting pick up at least some of the tab? Can small businesses afford a $15 minimum wage? What about nonprofits who can't simply raise prices? Can Maryland build on previous initiatives to keep health care accessible and make both insurance and prescription drugs more affordable? How should we handle Pimlico, redistricting and clean energy?
The process won't always be pretty, but it will generally be civil and, in the end, productive. I look forward to The Sun's coverage.
Herb Cromwell, Catonsville