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Tuesday, February 9, 2010:

The Agenda:

Snow stays on the front burner

Thumbnail image for Aaron.jpgSnow will remain the top political story in Maryland on Tuesday. We can all hope that changes soon, but for at least one more day, the weather's effect on state government will offer another lesson in how Annapolis works -- or, in this case, doesn't.

Friday offered snow economics, and Monday, snowstorm politics. On Tuesday, the General Assembly will return from its first canceled session in 7 years, but with only a skeletal staff, the chambers might not be able to vote on legislation. And with more snow in the forecast, committees in both the House and Senate could cut short afternoon hearings on dozens of bills. For his part, Gov. Martin O'Malley is already preparing to be in the state's emergency operations center, and far from any dealmaking at the State House.

Cleared path to State House.jpgTaken together, Tuesday will mark the third straight day that winter weather has severely limited lawmaking in Annapolis, and with another 10" or so of snow possible overnight, it may well not end there. In fact, by the time lawmakers get fully back on track, an entire week of the 90-day session may be somewhat lost.

The question for taxpayers, however, may amount to 'So What?' Will anything not get done this year if the General Assembly meets for 85 days instead of 90? At three months, Maryland's legislative session already has expanded several times and is longer than those in most other states. Truth is, "90 days" has also become somewhat imaginary.

As is typical, by next month the number of "calendar days" left in the session will bear limited resemblance to the remaining number of "legislative days." To give themselves broad latitude in controlling the flow of legislation headed for approval, the heads of the Democratically controlled Senate and House have for decades piled many "legislative days" into a smaller number of calendar days, allowing them to move bills through several procedural steps within hours, rather than days, once negotiations have been completed in late March or April.

Committees have rebuffed some lawmakers' attempts to shorten the session in recent years, but should Maryland's General Assembly continue to meet for 90 days? It's far from the first question raised by Snowmaggedon but may be one to ponder if lawmakers can watch the snow fall for a week and still pass the budget on time this spring.

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

Report: Homicide charges in sex offender case
"More than a month after Sarah Foxwell's body was found in a Delmar field, one man has finally been officially accused of her murder," reports Innae Park of ABC affiliate Channel 47, in a development in a case driving the sex offender debate in Annapolis. "On Monday, we sat down with Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis Ruark, who says Leggs has been served with an indictment, charging him with the 11-year-old's murder, as well as sexual offense charges. Ruark said, 'The evidence was shown a definite link between the defendant and the death of Sarah.' However, that may not be all for the registered sex offender. This'll be a unique case in that it's a murder case but it also carried the potential for the death penalty."

Duncan rumored to be angling for top Metro job
Thumbnail image for Doug Duncan.jpgFormer Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's name has publicly surfaced as a candidate for the top Metro job after days of chatter around the State House and elsewhere in Maryland government. The Associated Press reported over the weekend that Duncan (D), who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006, was calling around to let Maryland officials know of his interest. The AP cited two unnamed officials who said they had spoken to Duncan directly.

Young to lead Baltimore council
"Bernard C. 'Jack' Young, a veteran East Baltimore councilman, was elected president of the city council by a unanimous vote Monday evening," writes The Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper. "A 14-year member of the council who chaired the key budget and public safety committees, Young, 55, fills the seat vacated by Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake who was sworn-in as mayor following Sheila Dixon's resignation last week."


Quotable

Like many of us, Maryland lawmakers have used Facebook to communicate about the stowstorm in recent days. Here's a sampling of what they're saying to their friends and constituents.

House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery) and a friend:
Kumar Barve: Session update: The Maryland House of Delegates will have session tomorrow at 10:00AM as would be usual. Committee hearing will also proceed as scheduled. (11 hours ago)
Rajeev Divakar: Boo (11 hours ago)
Kumar Barve: Yeah, feelings exactly. (11 hours ago)

Sen. Catherine Pugh (D-Baltimore):
Catherine Pugh: Made it back to Annapolis safely...Everything is cancelled until tomorrow. I will be ready to roll. Be safe everyone and drive carefully if you can get off your street. (Yesterday at 5:05pm)

Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard), Del. Warren Miller (R-Howard) and a friend:
Allan H Kittleman: Just learned that the Maryland General Assembly Session is cancelled for tomorrow evening. (Sun at 3:55pm)
Joe Zauner: Good. When they're not in session they can't hurt us any more. (Sun at 5:58pm)
Allan H Kittleman: Very, very true! (Sun at 7:44pm)
Warren Miller: Allan, its actually a bad thing we aren't meeting, thats one more calendar day they have to play mischief with in April!(Yesterday at 8:35am)

-----

Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each weekday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of the day's top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And Look Ahead, Unspun, News Makers, and Week in Review keep you up to speed with power brokers in Annapolis and beyond. Want First Click on the go? Sign up for our free e-mail edition, and get the news delivered to your inbox or mobile device.

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  February 9, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: In Prince George's, candidate Baker picks up a snow shovel

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