Winners and losers

General Assembly

April 13, 2004

During each 90-day General Assembly session, some enhance their stature and some do not. These are some of this session's winners and losers. A caveat: A winner in Annapolis can be a loser come election time, and vice versa.

WINNERS

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.: He didn't need slots. Big wins on transportation and the Bay - plus a baby boy - cap productive session.

Speaker Michael E. Busch: Speaker beats slots and shows he can lead his caucus in taking a tough tax vote. Warning: Cas Taylor was a winner once too.

Del. Norman H. Conway: Appropriations chief wins 141-0 approval of his first budget. Pete Rawlings would be proud.

Secretary Robert L. Flanagan: Transportation chief, once a die-hard tax foe, shows he can deliver a whopping car fee for governor's priority issue.

Thornton: "No slots, no Thornton" mantra jettisoned by Ehrlich. Education aid formula is first in line at the trough for next year.

Del. Maggie L. McIntosh: Baltimore lawmaker emerges as key power broker in House dealings with administration on sewer fees, subway lines.

Republican lawmakers: Enjoying more influence than in many years, GOP caucuses hang together for their governor - even on tough votes.

Chesapeake Bay: Finally some good news for much-abused estuary. Cleanup fund will soon be flush - thanks to "tax" on sewers and septics.

Immigrants: Xenophobia doesn't play and bills targeting "illegals" fail. Hispanics show growing power.

LOSERS

Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller: Senate president is frustrated man in the middle on slots and taxes, reduced to extended-session bluff that Busch calls.

Mayor Martin O'Malley: Goaded by Ehrlich into taking schools on his shoulders, mayor faces troubles he doesn't need. But beware if he succeeds.

Bears: When your chief defender is a Prince George's County liberal, you know hunting season isn't far off.

Racetrack owners: Little by little, even theoretical slot machines keep drifting off to other locations. License to print money revoked.

Sen. Brian E. Frosh: Judicial Proceedings chairman a minority in his own committee on assault guns, other issues. Enough Mr. Nice Guy?

Democratic Party: How do you formulate a message when your top two legislative leaders are throwing watermelons at each other?

Local government: You think this year's news was bad? Next year Ehrlich gets Thornton kudos, you get to raise property taxes.

Taxes: Sales, income, corporation, HMOs, snack - Ehrlich won't buy into any of them. But if you call it a fee or surcharge, fine.

Legislative power: Maryland governors keep their budget superpowers as Ehrlich tells Senate: Don't mess with my mojo.

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