The Washington Post

O’Malley to talk transportation, other issues with Maryland legislative leaders

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, left, shows House Speaker Michael E. Busch a pen that he used to sign a congressional redistricting bill in late 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

With the next legislative session little more than a month away, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has summoned the presiding officers to a meeting Thursday to talk about transportation funding and other possible initiatives.

O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said the get-together with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) would be an chance to talk about goals for the 90-day session that starts Jan. 9.

“We look at it as an opportunity to hear what their priorities will be and to talk about ours,” Guillory said.

Coming off some big wins at the ballot box last month — including measures to legalize same-sex marriage and expanded gambling in Maryland — O’Malley has said little publicly about his session agenda.

The only big-ticket item the governor has advertised is a bill to jump-start the wind-power industry in Maryland. O’Malley failed to push similar legislation through the General Assembly during the two previous 90-day sessions.

Aides have said O’Malley is still weighing whether to make another run at repealing the death penalty and boosting funding for transportation.

During the last regular session, he proposed applying the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline, a move that was estimated to raise more than $600 million a year for transportation projects. That bill did not pass in either chamber.

During a June speech to the Maryland Municipal League, O’Malley continued to press the case for additional funding, saying: “I haven’t given up, and I have the scars to prove it. I left a lot of blood on the battlefield, but I haven’t dropped the flag.”

Aides said that O’Malley hopes to gauge the interest of legislative leaders Thursday in pursuing a similar bill in January or perhaps a scaled-back approach.

State analysts say that under current revenue projections, the state will have no money available after 2018 to build or plan major new transportation projects.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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