Maryland General Assembly reaches halfway point: What’s next?
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – So many bills, so little time. Local lawmakers are feeling the pressure to pass crucial pieces of legislation that will benefit both the state and the Eastern Shore before time runs out.
“It doesn’t feel like we’re halfway because we still have a lot to do,” said Senator Addie Eckardt (R-District 37).
In this next half of session, talks of how to exactly fund the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations are taking center stage. Including the possibility of taxing cigarettes and legalizing sports betting to help pay for the $4 billion tab.
“The revenues are derived by driving people into the casinos and then you get other types of wagering,” said Eckardt.
Local lawmakers are also continuing to push for legislation that they say will benefit the eastern shore including oyster sanctuary bills, access to affordable health care, and tougher penalties for negligent driving.
“Let’s define this and let’s make sure that we have a just penalty so that if someone who has life-threatening and life-sustaining injuries from this type of tried to crash that the penalty is more than a $500 citation,” said Senator Mary Beth Carozza (R-District 38).
But we’re told trying to get these local bills passed is a challenge in itself.
“There are two factors that are affecting the legislature right now those are the crime issues the governor mentioned and the impact of Kirwan and how that affects all the other bills. If all the funding is going to be tied up or realigned because of the demands of Kerwin the net health bill may be in jeopardy,” said Delegate Johnny Mautz (R-District 37B).
Lawmakers add that it is going to come down to the wire when it comes to passing some of these pieces of legislation but they say they’re hopeful they’ll be able to get it done. Lawmakers also add that crossover day is right around the corner on March 16th. That’s the deadline for a bill to pass either the House or the Senate in order to have a chance of clearing both chambers and making it to the governor’s desk. The last day of the legislative session is scheduled for April 6th.