“We are in an incredibly positive position” – Baltimore Sun


With high confidence and three days until the end of the session, Senate leadership reflected Friday on its legislative victories and how it plans to tackle the hundreds of bills that still need to be passed.

“This was an incredibly productive session, and we are landing the plane at a time of great uncertainty in Maryland,” Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Democrat from Baltimore, said at a news conference Friday morning. “But Marylanders should be proud of the work we were able to do together.”

The General Assembly navigated this year's 90-day legislative session relatively smoothly – even amid the threat of violence that locked down the Maryland State House and the unprecedented tragedy when the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed, killing six people.

But they quickly responded with an emergency economic relief bill for laid-off workers and industries that rely on the partially closed Port of Baltimore, among other priorities, such as: B. negotiating disagreements over Maryland's $63 billion budget and easing voters' concerns about increases in certain crimes among youth.

The omnibus juvenile justice bill passed the Senate on Thursday but requires final approval from the House of Representatives before being sent to Democratic Gov. Wes Moore for consideration. Senate Judiciary Chairman Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he was “optimistic” about the House’s response to the amended legislation.

As of Friday morning, over 500 bills had already been sent to Moore – he will approve, reject or sign them into law without his signature – and both chambers were poised to review hundreds more.

“It’s day 87 of 90,” said Ferguson, flanked by his standing committee chairs. “And we are in an incredibly positive position.”

The work that remains to be done in the limited time lawmakers have until the end of Maryland's 90-day legislative session involves some heavy lifting. The state budget is mostly settled but not yet formally passed, and the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill late in the session to consider legislation that would require the state to purchase Pimlico Race Course.

This bill, which passed the House of Representatives on Monday, was only introduced in early March and caused controversy in the Senate.

Asked if he thought the bill would pass the Senate, Ferguson said: “We'll see.”

Due to the workload, the House of Representatives chamber will convene a Saturday session, as it does every year. Ferguson said Friday morning that the Senate would likely also have to come to work, although it traditionally works late on the Friday before the General Assembly adjourns for the year.

“It won’t be a crazy last day,” he said. “All the big, big, challenging, most complex things have really evolved. It will be busy – we will be cleaning up a lot of things last minute…. But I have every confidence in the world that we have the right people making the right decisions and that we will be in the right place in the next 72 hours.”