WASHINGTON POST: The Maryland General Assembly session launches Wednesday with larger Democratic supermajorities in both chambers and an incoming Democratic governor to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. It will have a multibillion-dollar budget surplus to work with.
State lawmakers convene at noon for a 90-day marathon of lawmaking, with the Republican minority resisting a swing to the left as Democrats seek to put abortion rights into Maryland’s constitution, curtail gun access and set up the state’s newly approved recreational marijuana industry.
The day began with a clear changing of the guard: Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D) joined House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) in an annual public interview where they spoke about the state’s next chapter, including their plans for the budget surplus, efforts to address child poverty and plans to create a framework for legalized cannabis.
Each said one of the top priorities this year will be to shore up the state’s workforce. Vacancies are at the highest the state has ever seen, with Jones and Ferguson estimating the number stands near 6,500, while Moore said he believes it is closer to 10,000.
In his first year in office, Moore said, he wants to cut the number in half.
Without offering specifics, he again reiterated his plan to address child poverty on Day One, saying that he will work with the legislature to offer “the most aggressive package to address the issue of child poverty that this state has seen …”
“We have enough data to show what works, and we don’t always do it,” Moore said, referring to housing as the No. 1 driver of poverty, access to transportation and jobs. “I don’t think we actually have; I think we’ve given lip service to it.”
Hogan will remain governor until Moore is inaugurated next week. Hogan gave what he called a farewell address on Maryland Public Television on Tuesday, saying it was the final time he would address the public as Maryland’s governor. He emphasized the peaceful transfer of power and encouraged residents to root for the success of Moore’s administration.
Photo: ANNAPOLIS MD – JANUARY 11, 2023 State Delegate Aaron Kaufman(D) District 18, seated center, who is the first disabled delegate every elected in Maryland, is joined by his mother Nan Kaufman, right, after being sworn in during the opening of the General Assembly at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland on January 11, 2023. (Michael Robinson Chávez/The Washington Post)