Cracking crabs and talking politics: J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake returns
CRISFIELD, Md. – After being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake made its return to Crisfield. But it’s not just about all that delicious Eastern Shore seafood. It’s also a political who’s who for Maryland’s lawmakers.
Money Where The Mouth Is
Local legislators tell 47ABC the seafood celebration is a chance to put Crisfield back on the map, and hopefully bring some money back to the area. “It is a celebration, but what is really important is it reminds the rest of the state how important Crisfield and Somerset County are as a destination. So much is right here in this county,” said State Senator Mary Beth Carozza.
Sen. Carozza says even before the pandemic began, many small local businesses were already struggling. So, the senators says the crowds that come with the crab and clam bake could be a huge boost for local entrepreneurs. “We want the rest of the state – the rest of the area – to know what’s happening here so they can come back and make this a destination instead of coming here once a year. We want them coming back on a regular basis to enjoy everything we have to offer in Crisfield and Somerset County,” said Sen. Carozza.
Sen. Carozza hopes that increase in visitors could also encourage new businesses to make Somerset County their home. “You’re starting to see more restaurants open up, and then you’re looking at more businesses that will come in for retail. Then you go beyond Crisfield, and you start looking at all of the Route 413 corridor, and what’s going on in Princess Anne,” said Sen. Carozza.
Cracking Crabs, Talking Politics
Aside from focusing on highlighting all that Somerset County has to offer, local legislators also spent Wednesday doing what they do best: talking politics. State Senator Addie Eckardt says she and other legislators are already hard at work pre-filing bills ahead of the next General Assembly session. “We have the bill filing deadline for pre-files November 1st. Think about that. That’s three weeks from now – less than three weeks. So, we are scrambling to get a lot of our pre-filed bills in,” said Sen. Eckardt.
Another priority for Sen. Eckardt right now is keeping tabs on Maryland’s re-districting process. The senator says she hopes to see the Eastern Shore’s districts stay in tact to ensure equity and fair representation. “If I had an ideal world, it would be single-member districts. I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I wish it would, and then we need to have equity in the distribution of the numbers per district,” said Sen. Eckardt. “Many times in the rural areas, we get overloaded. So, we will have more in some of the Metropolitan areas that aren’t as large geographically as we are, and have less numbers. So, finding that balance will be really important.”
Meanwhile, Delegate Carl Anderton says he’s putting a focus on continuing to build upon the progress already made with infrastructure. “We’re continuing to work on infrastructure improvements. We passed a bill a few years back that restores highway user revenues. That bill has a sunset on it. So, we need to remove the sunset and make it a permanent fix. There will be local priorities coming from the county for us to work on,” said Del. Anderton.
The Maryland General Assembly will reconvene for its 2022 session on January 12th. From there, lawmakers will have until April 11th to get back to work on legislation.
Plans Before Departure
Before Maryland Governor Larry Hogan got cracking on those crabs, he paused to talk about the state’s continue response to COVID-19. The governor says he’s proud of the progress the state is making in the fight against the pandemic. Gov. Hogan says Maryland is one of the most vaccinated states in the nation, with some of the lowest case rates. Plus, hospitalizations, ICU stays, and case and positivity rates for the state are down, according to Gov. Hogan.
But, the governor admits there’s still a lot of work to be done. Gov. Hogan says he’s going to keep working to encourage people get vaccinated. He says that’s especially important in areas that are lagging behind in vaccination rates, including the Lower Eastern Shore. “Part of it is just continuing to work on those hold outs. Everybody’s had access to a vaccine for 10 months now, and we’ve done eight million of them. So, it’s not a problem of people didn’t have access to a vaccine. They just simply refused,” said Gov. Hogan.
Gov. Hogan adds he understands why some people are hesitant to get the shots. But that’s exactly why the governor says education is a key part of vaccination efforts. “They shouldn’t just listen to information that they get on the internet. They should listen to the public health advice. The vaccine is enabling us to put an end to this thing. But, we’re not going to be able to do it if we can’t get enough people in some of these counties to get the vaccine,” said Gov. Hogan.
Beyond COVID-19, Gov. Hogan is also focusing on addressing some final legislative priorities. Gov. Hogan’s current and final term comes to an end on November 8th, 2022. He says Maryland will be announcing a list of legislative priorities in the next few months.
But for now, the governor says he is continuing to put a focus on strengthening Maryland’s economy, not just in response to COVID-19, but in general. “We have the fourth best economic recovery. We’ve had seven years of improvement, and seven months of job growth. We’re leading the nation in that, as well as in health and economic recovery,” said Gov. Hogan.
However, Gov. Hogan admits he does have a couple of things he’s already planning to take a closer look at. “We’re one of the worst places in America to retire, even though we’re a wonderful state. Because we are one of highest and states all around us don’t charge retirement taxes, we’re going to try to work on that,” said Gov. Hogan. “I’m not looking at it like a lame duck. I’m going to look at it like running through the tape and plan everything we can accomplish.”