Democrats’ shared success at the ballot-box seemed to renew camaraderie worn thin in recent years in Annapolis during intraparty battles over how to deal with deep budget shortfalls. The newfound goodwill was particularly evident between Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert).
The two ended last session exchanging blame for a failed budget bill, but after returning to Annapolis in special sessions to pass a spending plan and the ballot-bound deal to expand gambling, favored by Miller, the two had only flowery compliments for one another Wednesday.
Miller even predicted that O’Malley’s legislation for an offshore wind farm (twice stalled in the Senate) would prevail this year. And Miller shifted committee assignments in an apparent bid to make it so.
2) Referendums are back! Well, sort of. Miller also suggested that he may let another longtime O’Malley priority — a repeal of the death penalty — pass the Senate this year over his personal objection.
With voters having affirmed the General Assembly’s positions last year on same-sex marriage, the Dream Act and gambling, the referendum process may provide a political safety valve for a legislature historically averse to adopting progressive social policy.
Lawmakers on the fence or those who may face political repercussions could explain their votes as ones to simply put the controversial issue before voters.
Miller said that with a strong push by O’Malley, he thought a repeal would pass. And he said that he was “confident it will be on the ballot in 2014.”
“The ultimate decision will be made by the people of Maryland.”
3) For O’Malley’s promises this week to unveil a package of gun control legislation, he only generally outlined his plan as one that would tackle assault weapons, mental health and school security.
With O’Malley’s annual State of the State address scheduled late next month, he appeared to be upstaged, at least politically, by fellow Democratic governors.
In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D) used his State of the State address Thursday to call for universal background checks on all guns sales.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) drew national attention for using his annual address Wednesday to call for making the Empire State the national model for gun control, and he appeared close to a bipartisan deal with state lawmakers to make it happen.