Miller: School Construction Needs State Oversight
State Sen. Allan Kittleman wants voting sessions recorded, a Prince George's County senator suffers a basketball injury and two Baltimore County legislators team up to shorten the wait to get a divorce.
A proposal by Baltimore City to secure hundreds of millions in state money for school construction is missing a key ingredient, according to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.
"The state needs to have a role in school construction," Miller said.
Baltimore City wants the state to guarantee as much as $30 million a year for 20 years in the form of block grants for school construction and renovations. The city will then use that promise to leverage borrowing $1 billion for its plan.
Miller rejects the plan saying it's a lot of money and that the state is needed to provide a check and balance to potential malfeasance and corruption.
"I'm a historian, I study all history, OK," Miller said. "Whenever you have a one-sided government you need checks and balances some how. You need a two party system if Republicans control you need Democrats and if Democrats control you need Republicans or if everybody is controlled by one party you need the state. So, if a county is controled by one party then you need the state to look in."
Kittleman Wants Voting Sessions Recorded
Senate committees already record bill hearing sessions by rule but Sen. Allan Kittleman wants to take it a step further.
The Howard County Republican proposed a change to Senate rules that would require each of the Senate's four standing committees to audio record voting sessions.
"I've had quite a few people say they'd like to listen to our voting sessions," Kittleman said, adding that the change "would make us more transparent. I think it's a good idea."
The Senate could vote on Kittleman's proposed rule change as early as next week.
Miller said the proposal "was not a difficult issue" but hedged on whether such a change was desirable.
"I'm not sure it's doable," Miller said. "It's a laudable goal but if we can do it we should do it."
Not As Dirty As It Sounded
Sen. Ronald Young invited a Frederick County Rabbi to perform the morning prayer but it was what came after that drew an uncomfortable laugh.
Following the invocation by Rabbi Dan Sikowitz of Congregation Kol Ami, Young asked for the prayer to be journalized as part of the Senate records and added a personal note.
"I'd like to say Rabbi Dan Bat Mitzvahed my wife," Young said.
It's not clear what the Senate president heard.
"Rabbi Dan what?" Miller said.
The Rabbi leaned over to Miller to repeat what Young had said.
"OK, OK. You have to enunciate more clearly," Miller said looking out at Young. "Wow, whoa, whoa!"
Greetings from Turtle Island
In the House, delegates were greeted with a brief lecture on Native American culture and its connections with Maryland by Del. Heather Mizeur.
Mizeur, a Montgomery County Democrat, was charged with leading the morning invocation in the House and offered a Lakota Tribe Prayer of the Great Spirit.
"Maryland has a lot of connection to our native ancestors," Mizuer said. "Sometimes unkowingly."
Mizeur explained that Native American cultures some times refer to North America as "Turtle Island."
"Of course we have the turtle as the mascot of our flagship university," said Mizeur, who then held up a Navajo prayer weaving, which she noted predominantly featured the colors of the Maryland flag.
Senate Passes First Bill
The Maryland Senate is off to a blazing start passing it's first bill of the year on the sixth day of session.
The Senate unanimously passed a bill that extends the deadline on an annual report by the Public Service Commission on all power shutoffs by utilities during the previous heating season.
Current law requires the commission to file the report with the Maryland General Assembly by June 1. The bill passed in the Senate extends that deadline to Sept. 1.
The bill now heads across the hall to the House of Delegates.
On The Disabled List
One notable absence from the Senate's Wednesday morning session was Sen. Paul Pinsky.
The Prince George's County Democrat suffered an injury in a basketball game the previous night.
"The senator thinks he's still young," Miller said of the 62-year-old Pinsky.
The injury to Pinsky's eye reportedly required stitches, according to Miller.
No word on who delivered the injurious blow though Miller playfully suggested that the number of suspects might be large.
"I'm sure it was probably everyone on the court," Miller said.
Brochin, Zirkin Team Up On Divorce Bill
Breaking up is hard to do but two Baltimore County senators want to make it a little easier in Maryland.
Sens. Jim Brochin and Bobby Zirkin, Democrats, have introduced a bill that would reduce to six months the amount of time a legally separated couple must wait before filing for a divorce.
The current waiting period in the state is a year.
If passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, the law would take effect on Oct. 1, 2013.
Maryland General Assembly Notebook 2013 is a round up of the notable and quotable from Annapolis.