Maryland State Sen. Sidney Kramer has been unanimously elected chairman of the Montgomery County delegation to the Maryland Senate by his colleagues.
The 57-year-old Silver Spring developer will replace fellow Democrat Victor Crawford, who is retiring from the Senate.
Kramer has been in the legislature for four years and is the only former Mongomery County Council member to serve in the State Senate. He was nominated for the chairmanship by Crawford, who, after 14 years in state politics and eight years as delegation chairman, plans to devote full time to his law practice in Rockville.
"He's [Kramer] probably the best one for the job second to me," said Crawford, whose tenure in Annapolis has been marked by outspokenness and flamboyance. He said anticipates that Kramer's style as chairman will be much more low-key. But, Crawford said, "hopefully Sid will continue the same policies."
Crawford also said he has suggested a new policy to Kramer that may speed up the movement of Montgomery County legislation, which he said often gets hung up in the House. Crawford said the delegation should not consider bills from the House if they are presented after March 15.
The county's Senate delegation includes five Montgomery Democratic senators, a Montgomery Republican and James Clark Jr., who represents a combined Montgomery-Howard County District. The delegation oversees county legislation that requires state approval.
Traditionally, if a local bill "receives local approval, it is received by the legislature and passed," Kramer said.
The most immediate problem facing Kramer is to patch the rift in the traditional Baltimore City-Montgomery County voting coalition arising from the dilemma of whether to support Baltimore County Sen. Melvin A. Steinberg (D) or Clark for the Senate's presidency.
If Steinberg becomes president, Montgomery stands to lose Lawrence Levitan's chairmanship of the budget committee as well as the chairmanship of a budget subcommittee that deals with law enforcement and transportation. Crawford has been chairman of that subcommittee.
Crawford said that he has been the "point man" on the budget subcommittee for the county, the one who "hoots and hollers, screams and yells." He said he hopes that Kramer or another Montgomery delegation member will replace him in that position, but added that "Sid isn't much for making speeches."
Kramer said he believes Levitan will not lose his chairmanship. "My first challenge is to make sure Montgomery County gets its fair share in representation in the leadership of the Senate," Kramer said. "We will not take a back seat to the other counties and the City of Baltimore," he added.
Kramer also said the other major issue the delegation will face is the allocation of state funds for county services. He indicated the Montgomery senators will try to ensure that the financial formula doesn't penalize their county for having the highest median income in the state.