Our governor has just ordered up yet another special session for Maryland's General Assembly. We legislators must return to Annapolis for the second time this short, hot summer. This time, ostensibly to take up the issue of expanded gaming in the great state of Maryland.
As you may recall, the governor convened a special session early this summer. The reason we went back initially was to amend the so-called "Doomsday Budget." That budget was actually a default spending plan, and I opposed the increase in taxes that ultimately passed in Special Session 1.0. Now, weeks later we are going back, for a double header in 2012.
Our Constitution states that the governor can convene a special session of the legislature in the case of an "emergency." Special Session 2.0 is being convened so that we can debate the "emergency" thatPrince George's Countymay now want a casino. Actually, that is not 100 percent accurate. Some interests in Maryland and elsewhere want a casino at National Harbor, but that desire is not unanimous amongst lawmakers.
The purpose of this letter is not to debate the propriety of expanded gaming in Maryland. My purpose in writing is to explain why I plan to be present in Annapolis when so many others are suggesting that I stay home in protest.
I was elected to represent the people of northern Harford County in the legislature. I am a conservative Republican and when I am in the Capitol, I am in a sea of liberal politicians and I am always in the minority. If I were to stay home from every hard vote that I am called to make in the legislature, there would be no need to elect representatives in the first place. From my perspective of being in that conservative, business oriented minority, most votes down there are hard votes. Should I stay home in protest, as some have proposed? If I did, who would be there to engage in the necessary debate? Who would be there to cast a vote that my constituents expect? Who would be there to call the other side out?
The powers that be in the legislature have not bothered to send out a copy of their proposed legislation. While not much is certain for me in the next three weeks, I can tell you that I am already in favor of table games in Maryland. We are playing second fiddle behind all our surrounding states on that point. I am NOT in favor of anything that will increase the amount of taxes paid by our taxpayers.
So yes. I will be attending Special Session 2.0 on Aug. 9. That does not mean I will be happy to be there. I'd rather be at the beach with my family, or working in my office to pay my bills. But I'm going to be in the Capitol. I will listen to the debate as I have always done, and I will cast my vote. And I will argue for the bigger picture and follow the State Constitution. The people who elected me expect nothing less.