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Today, Md. General Assembly begins debates great and small

January 09, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - A day before starting his 26th year in the state legislature, George C. Edwards sat in his Senate office and sorted through his desk.

Last year, his first as a senator after 24 as a delegate, was meaningful - but it ranked second to his first day in the legislature, in 1983, he said.

"Otherwise, it's just kind of routine," Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, said of the session's opening day.

All of the "welcomes" and committee assignments are a formality, he said.

The Maryland General Assembly reconvenes today. Delegates and senators are back in Annapolis for another 90-day session - about seven weeks after they left.

The General Assembly held a special session for three weeks in October and November to tackle a state budget deficit estimated at $1.5 billion.

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Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, joked that it seems like lawmakers just left - then had to turn their cars around and come back.

Still, he was looking forward to the first day of the 2008 session.

"Each session has its own particular personality," said Munson, who is starting his 34th year in the legislature. "That makes it interesting. That makes it exciting."

Munson said he spent part of Tuesday at a reception for some of Maryland's federal representatives and senators, and at a Republican briefing.

One topic in the Republican meeting was the state's newly passed tax on computer services, which he opposes.

"There seems to be a head of steam building to get rid of that tax," he said.

One bill, he said, will call for the computer-services tax to be replaced with a higher tax on gasoline, adding that he doesn't support that idea, either.

Before the session, other members of Washington County's delegation said they anticipate debates this year on the death penalty, same-sex marriage, carbon emissions and gambling.

Others issues won't reach that magnitude.

For example, while out having dinner this week, Edwards talked to someone unhappy about state regulations connected to making ice cream as a side business.

Edwards said it's hard to single out any bill as the most important because every issue means something to someone.

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