Democratic and Republican leaders of the Maryland Senate gathered Thursday morning to unveil five bills that they said members on both sides of the aisle can support during the 90-day session.
The measures are relatively modest in scope, but the bipartisanship cooperation behind them is something special, particularly given the tone of national politics these days, said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert).
“We just wanted to show and contrast with what’s happening in Washington, D.C.,” Miller said during a crowded news conference in the Senate lounge, where he was joined by colleagues from both parties. ”We’re coming together best we can. We’re not going to be able to agree on everything.”
The most visible display of bipartisanship came on a bill to exempt most family farms from the estate tax — a measure that would not only help farmers but preserve open space, lawmakers said.
Those speaking out in favor of the bill included Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery) and Sen. David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick) — both of whom are seeking their party’s nomination for the redrawn 6th Congressional District.
The other bills touted Thursday:
* Provide an income tax credit for obtaining security clearances, worth $3,000 or half the cost of the clearance. Senators said the measure, which is capped at $6 million, would help create high-paying jobs in the region.
* Allow parents to create a credit report for minors for the purpose of freezing the report and preventing fraudulent use of the minor’s social security number.
* Call for Maryland’s school children to be assessed once at each instructional level in social studies. The bill seeks to revive the subject as a core area following last year’s cancellation of the high school assessment test on government.
* Extend a scholarship program to benefit military veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. Previously passed legislation was set to expire in 2016. The new bill would extend the program until 2020.