Maryland Wants to Switch from 'South' to 'East'
A profile of Maryland in the Almanac of American Politics begins with this observation: "Just south of the Mason-Dixon line and just north of the line between the Union and the Confederacy, the midpoint of the 13 colonies, Maryland has always been betwixt and between."
Among the latest evidence of this is a bid by the state to change its regional affiliation with the Council of State Governments, an organization that seeks to bring government leaders together to share ideas and strategies.
Maryland has long been associated with the Southern region of the council. Among other things, that has meant Maryland lawmakers have hobnobbed at regional conferences with their counterparts from states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
But now Maryland leaders have, in essence, decided they have more in common with legislators from places like New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont.
In a joint letter to leaders of the Council of State Governments, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) ask permission for Maryland to re-align with the Eastern region. The issue is expected to be decided this fall.
Politically, it would certainly be a better fit. Maryland is among the most reliably Democratic states in the nation. Of the four council regions, the Southern is the one most heavily populated with Republican elected officials.
In their letter, Miller and Busch cite several more substantive issues. The Eastern region includes more states with a stake in the health of the Chesapeake Bay, for example. And the Base Realignment and Closure Process "will have extensive impacts on Maryland and primarily its neighbors to the north and east."
Miller and Busch also mention that the District is a member of the Eastern region, and make the case that there are many issues affecting Maryland and the District that require "mutual cooperation." (The letter makes only a passing reference to the fact that Virginia is part of the Southern region.)
"We do not suggest this amendment lightly but believe the factors which align Maryland more closely with the Eastern Region are significant enough to warrant this proposed change," the letter says.
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