With the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president this January, most of our collective political energy this winter will be focused on Washington, DC. But as we all know, January also brings us the opening of the 90-day session of the Maryland General Assembly. The Maryland General Assembly began officially on January 11, and although this is the third year of this Assembly, there are significant changes in the composition of legislators who will serve in the 2017 session. These changes result mainly from the election of Senator Catherine Pugh as the new Mayor of Baltimore City because Mayor Pugh has engaged several of her former legislative colleagues to work with her administration. In addition, certain legislators have resigned due to legal problems or illness. Others have been re-assigned to new committees. A new mix of members in the Assembly may prompt new approaches to legislative advocacy.
One of the most important responsibilities of the Maryland General Assembly is to pass a budget, and this exercise will continue to engage the efforts of both the Assembly and Governor Hogan. Other issues which likely will receive a good bit of attention this year include paid sick leave for Maryland workers, fracking, renewable energy, state-wide handling of rape kits, policing practices, management of transportation projects, and procedures for re-drawing Maryland’s congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census.
Advocates in the domestic violence arena will be initiating efforts to disqualify certain individuals from serving as either health care agents or surrogate decision makers for patients when these individuals are respondents in current protective order proceedings or if a divorce action has been filed. Such a change to Maryland’s law addresses the inherent conflict of interest that arises in such situations and will enhance the safety of all family members.
As winter melts into spring, most of us will be looking closely at the policies of the Trump Administration and the new Congress during the traditional first 100 days following the inauguration. Let’s also keep our eyes on Annapolis where lots of activity will also keep everyone hopping!