It was Brooke Lierman’s ninth opening day at the General Assembly. But when it came time for delegates-elect in the crowded House of Delegates chamber to swear the oath of office, her right hand stayed at her side while her former colleagues’ shot up in the air.
“Driving down 97 and Route 50 to Annapolis on opening day, I was certainly feeling wistful,” she told The Baltimore Sun last week.
Lierman, a civil and disability rights attorney, gave up her seat as a Democratic representative of South Baltimore for a successful run to serve as the state’s comptroller — making Maryland history as the first woman to hold the office and the first woman to be directly elected to a state-level position.
She will be sworn in Monday afternoon outside the Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building in Annapolis to a four-year term as Maryland’s 34th comptroller. Her annual salary will be $165,000.
Though Wednesday’s start of the session made her nostalgic for her years in the General Assembly, the comptroller-elect wasted no time introducing herself to her staff at an office breakfast that morning.
“I had such a wonderful and warm reception from all of them that my feelings of wistfulness became feelings of excitement,” Lierman said. “I loved my eight years in the House, and some of my former colleagues are my closest friends in the world, and I’m excited to work with them in a different capacity, and I’m excited to work with the people in the comptroller’s office.”
Though many know little about the office, the comptroller plays a consequential role in the lives of Marylanders. The agency oversees state income tax collection and imposes state taxes on and regulates gasoline, alcohol and tobacco. Once the legislature establishes a regulatory system this session for recreational-use cannabis, collecting taxes on its sale is expected to be added to Lierman’s responsibilities.
Also, Lierman will take the comptroller’s seat Jan. 25 on the Board of Public Works, which approves major state contracts, alongside Gov.-elect Wes Moore and State Treasurer Dereck Davis. It will be the first time in eight years Democrats will hold all three seats.
Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot is leaving public office after placing third in Maryland’s gubernatorial primary in July. He held the office for four terms.
Franchot endorsed Lierman’s campaign against former Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a Republican, during the 2022 general election and was a co-chair of her transition team.
“We have a robust and really inclusive transition team that has been set up into a number of different work groups that really mimic the work that the comptroller’s office does from, pension investments to procurement to tax and customer management,” Lierman said. Subject matter experts from across the state led each work group.
Lierman also invited members of the public to submit ideas through her transition team’s website as to what they would like the office to do. She plans to comb through “nearly 50 pages — single-spaced — of comments and thoughts” from people all over Maryland.
“I’ve been really so grateful for how involved so many people are in sharing their expertise,” Lierman said.
Maryland Policy & Politics
Lierman, 43, was born in Washington, D.C. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Dartmouth College and a law degree from the University of Texas.
Voters in the 46th District elected her to the House in 2014. She served on the Appropriations and the Environment and Transportation committees. She also served as House co-chair for the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Pensions and founded the Maryland Transit Caucus.
House Environment and Transportation Committee Chair Kumar Barve called her “very diligent” and “politically savvy in the positive sense of the word.”
“She understood how people in different parts of the state and different places on the House floor would respond to things,” Barve said. “I considered her an adviser to me in the committee. She was just really terrific.”
Among her legislative accomplishments, Lierman sponsored a 2019 bill that became the first statewide ban in the U.S. on plastic foam food and beverage containers.
Lierman said lessons she learned as a delegate transfer to her new role, calling her “motivating factor” in the House “creating more equitable, more resilient and more prosperous communities” and pointing to work she did to pass a bill to end discrimination against renters based on their sources of income, transit legislation she ushered to the governor’s desk and her work with fellow legislators to approve the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education legislation.
“Now, as an executive overseeing the comptroller’s agency, I’ll be looking to ensure our agency is always focused on serving the people of Maryland and meeting them where they are,” she said.