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Maryland Gov. Hogan calls special General Assembly session for May 1

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is calling state lawmakers back to Annapolis on May 1 so the House of Delegates can elect a new speaker.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Pro tem Adrienne Jones sent a joint letter Thursday to the governor, asking him to call a special session to fill a leadership void left by the death of Speaker Michael E. Busch.

“It is my solemn duty to call a special session of the General Assembly in order to elect a successor to Speaker Busch,” Hogan said in a statement. “As we close a significant chapter in our state’s history, we will continue the critical work that Mike Busch dedicated so much of his life to doing.”

Busch, a delegate since 1987 and the speaker since 2003, died April 7 after being hospitalized with pneumonia. The Anne Arundel County Democrat’s death left the House without a permanent leader.

Jones, as speaker pro tem, filled in for Busch during the final weeks of the regular, 90-day General Assembly session that ended the day after the speaker’s death.

Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, is campaigning to become the next speaker, competing against Democratic Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore and Democratic Del. Dereck Davis of Prince George’s County.

A coalition of advocacy groups sent a survey to the three candidates Thursday, emphasizing issues of “government transparency and inclusivity.”

“Marylanders deserve and rightly demand that legislators demystify the political process and allow for greater civic engagement,” Dana Vickers Shelley, executive director of the ACLU of Maryland, said in a statement. “Moreover, decentralization of power, diversity, and inclusion affords our communities more robust and representative debate on important issues.”

Some of the questions focus on aspects of the legislative process that can make it difficult for advocates and the public to understand how decisions are made, such as asking whether legislative committees would be required to post voting lists, record votes on all amendments and livestream voting sessions.

The survey also asks how the speaker candidates would select other House leaders, such as committee chairs, and whether they would commit to limiting themselves and committee chairs to serve no more than eight years in those roles. The Senate and House elect presiding officers at the start of each annual session. Typically, the Senate president and House speaker serve four-year terms.

The survey was sent by the ACLU and other groups that lobby for issues such as civil rights, human rights and open government. They include the NAACP, CASA de Maryland, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, unions and others.

All three candidates have said in interviews that they would continue Busch’s efforts toward being inclusive of all members. He was praised for mentoring delegates, diversifying the leadership structure and making sure Republicans, as the minority party, had their voices heard in debates.

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