O'Malley executive orders raise questions

January 11, 2012

Recently, Gov. Martin O'Malley has issued a number of controversial executive orders involving PlanMaryland, Marcellus shale, and the Piscataway Indians. While a reasonable person might argue the merits of these orders, there is a broader issue of the executive encroaching upon what is usually a legislative matter. In one form or another, each of these issues has received an unfavorable report by the legislature. It is surprising to me that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch have not taken these matters to heart, both being strong institutional leaders.

Executive orders are a special directive, based on constitutional powers or on powers delegated by statute, issued by the governor. They are usually promulgated from time to time on well-publicized and/or politically sensitive issues. They are commonly issued to address public emergencies or disasters, but they are also used to deal with a political mess of some sort. Moreover, they are not usually used on a regular basis because of separation-of-powers arguments, and legislators often see them as a usurpation of the legislative prerogative.

John N. Bambacus, Frostburg

The writer is a former state senator from District 1.

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