State Government Day

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As the sun came up we boarded our bus to Annapolis for State Government Day. Our very own Rick Weldon, former House Delegate MD 3B, set the stage for what we were about to see and learn.

Arriving at the Statehouse Complex, bundled up for the frigid morning, we passed through security and entered the historical and beautifully appointed State House, seat of the Maryland General assembly. Our official visit started in the Joint Hearing Room with a video introducing us to the legislative process that provided a solid foundation for what promised to be an incredible day.

Our group was divided up into two teams for our tour and history lesson. I had no idea how significant Annapolis was, not just as the seat of Maryland government, but in the history of our Country. Annapolis was the first Capitol of the new Nation and there we were, standing in the actual room, where George Washington resigned his military commission in the hope of returning to his farm in Mt Vernon. His resignation to the Continental Congress established the beginnings of the Republic and as they say, “the rest is history”. Thrilling to walk in the steps of giants.

After touring the historical rooms and learning about the building and Maryland history, we had an opportunity to visit both the House and Senate Chambers. Senators, including Frederick’s Ron Young, discussed a joint resolution extending the authority of the MD Attorney General. Passage would allow the AG additional authority to act independently, without permission from the Governor or Legislature. Timing is everything! Given the current national wrangling over the President’s travel ban, this was a particularly timely visit.  From our seats in the gallery, we were glued to the proceedings and many of us didn’t want to leave the Chamber…heard later in the day that the resolution passed. After an exhilarating morning, we headed for lunch at the Ram’s Head Tavern, where members of the Frederick Delegation joined us: Karen Lewis-Young, Carol Krimm, Bill Folden, and David Vogt.

After lunch, it was back to the State House to meet House Speaker, Michael Busch. As a House member since 1987, he shared his experiences from the time when “geography drove the agenda” to the current day, when “partisan politics” seems to lead the way.  He made the point that the “legislature evolves as society evolves”.  Delegate Bill Folden and Former Delegate Weldon joined the discussion, sharing their reflections and perspectives. We had the unique opportunity of hearing from Chris Shank, Governor Hogan’s Legislative Policy Advisor, Secretary Kelly Schultz, and then a special visit from Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, who shared his commitment to solving the opioid crisis in our State, regulatory reform, and sensible procurement.

Our last stop of the day was down the hall, through the tunnels, and up the elevator to LHOB Room 406, the Western Maryland Delegation Room. One by one, we were treated to insights from key staff members, each of whom shared their job description, responsibilities, and vision. It was extraordinary to hear from Dep. Secretary Wendi Peters, (Dept. of Planning), Ted King (Dept. of Legislative Services), and Katie Nash, lobbyist with Greenwill Consulting.

The common thread running through all our LFC days has been one of cooperation, partnerships, developing relationships, and a strong commitment to service… service to ideals, to integrity, to the State and to our local community.

-Hermine Bernstein

 

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