The Maryland General Assembly isn’t the only big thing beginning anew this month.
(Does beginning anew agree with you? Strictly speaking, anew is a tautology in the phrase as beginning is beginning. Still, in the spiral of life, renewal is a great force, giving us second, third and more chances, if we’re lucky. There! I’ve reasoned myself into beginning anew. How about you?)
I’ve tried not to bore you in writing about the General Assembly. Important as it is to your life and mine, it’s a subject that quickly runs into technicalities. So I’m telling you only the least you need to know, with leads on where to go for more if you find an area interesting.
If you’re a wonk, you’ll know most of this. But I bet not all, as some surprises are tucked in. The best is your introduction to the man to whom everyone in the House of Delegates listens, Reading Clerk C. Rhoades Whitehill.
Second, third and more chances are regular business in the General Assembly, where a tussle over a Renewable Energy law passed — and vetoed — last year is likely to get the session rolling. Also back this year are lots more ideas that didn’t quite make it last year. On Gov. Larry Hogan’s side, a big one is his second try to get lawmakers to approve giving manufacturers a tax-free decade for setting up shop in areas of high unemployment. Sick leave for employees will be back, too. A bill passed the Senate last year but failed in the House. This year, Hogan has his own proposal, so there’ll be wrangling over that, too.
Wrangling is not such a bad thing. In my book, it’s a very good thing. In the General Assembly, as opposed to on the ranch, it means that people championing different ideas are talking to each other, maybe even listening, maybe even working toward consensus. In the General Assembly, a consensus bill is negotiated between both chambers, the House and the Senate, until most everybody sort of agrees on it. Because it depends on give and take, nobody is ever 100 percent happy. But it’s the best that can be done at the moment; thus, it will do.
Making a law is like getting a very big family to agree on what to watch on television. It’s the best compromise that can be reached among people who, as people do, think differently.
That’s one reason they say lawmaking, like sausage making, doesn’t bear close scrutiny.
I promise you not too much sausage making in this story, and just a little as the Assembly continues its 90-day session.
Here at Bay Weekly, as in the General Assembly, we’re tooling up for a new year. At this moment in time, making only the second of 52 editions of Volume XXV, the year ahead looks like a mountain to climb. But as we’re doing so for our 24th time, we know the ropes. Already many stories, some far into the future, are taking shape. As are some big new ideas I’ll soon be telling you about.
Our own calendars are filling out, too, as we feel that surge of new year’s energy. We’ll celebrate three birthdays this month, on top of the one birth we’re already celebrating. Henry Mika Gardner couldn’t wait until the new year, surprising Chesapeake Curiosities columnist Christine Gardner three weeks early. So she begins this year on maternity leave.
I hope you, too, are swept up in the spiral of beginning anew.
Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.sandraolivettimartin.com