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Posted at 10:53 AM ET, 04/26/2012

Maryland needs a full-time legislature

As fallout from the Great Annapolis Meltdown of 2012 continues to reverberate, word comes that the most likely solution to the tax increases/casino gambling impasse will be to have two special sessions of the General Assembly. The first special session will take place in May and will deal only with the issue of tax increases so as to avoid the $500 million in spending cuts contained in the “Doomsday Budget.” The second special session would likely be called in August and would focus on gaming.

Commenting on the possibility of two special sessions a mere two months apart Gov. Martin O’Malley said: “I think that both issues deserve a hearing and some resolution. What made this session very disappointing and frustrating by the end was considering both of those issues at the same time.”

In other words, the General Assembly attempted to walk and chew gum at the same time and wound up falling face down with its bubblicious stuck to the sidewalk.

The catastrophe that was the end of the 2012 legislative session inflicted serious damage on the reputations of the state, the Assembly, Gov. O’Malley, House Speaker Mike Busch and especially Senate President Mike Miller. Calling two special session to “resolve” the issues of taxes and gaming will do nothing to restore those reputations. Quite the contrary, the possibility of two sessions raises serious questions about the judgement of those managing the Free State.

Not only could the Assembly not manage to walk and chew gum during the 90 day session with its clearly defined and constitutionally prescribed timeline, the Assembly is apparently so incompetent as a body that it cannot be trusted to deal with more than one issue during a special session — that’s the message being sent.

In reality, what all of this makes abundantly clear is that Maryland needs to abandon its antiquated part-time legislature and adopt a full-time Assembly.

Yes, you read that correctly. I realize that in the face of the Great Meltdown it may seem counter-intuitive to call for a full-time legislature. Perhaps it sounds like a recipe for multiplying the failings of the current Assembly. But hear me out.

Every year the General Assembly convenes in January and embarks on a hectic 90-day legislative marathon that ends in early April. Every year there are hundreds of bills left unpassed and dozens of issues left unaddressed as the constraints of the 90-day session force everything into a position secondary to the budget. For 90 days, the voices of everyday Marylanders are drowned out by a horde of lobbyists camped out in Annapolis

[Continue reading Todd Eberly’s post at The FreeStater Blog.]

Todd Eberly blogs at The FreeStaterBlog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  10:53 AM ET, 04/26/2012

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