Would Maryland Be Better Off with a Full-Time Legislature?

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Do you, like FreeStater Blog author Todd Eberly, believe that the General Assembly’s recent budget and gambling fails –each requiring its own special session — are a sign that it’s time for Maryland to embrace a full-time legislature? Or, like Maryland Reporter‘s Len Lazarick, do you think that the General Assembly does enough damage in 90 days?

Eberly would prefer a year-round session — which would provide time to respond to “constituent demands,” “enact governmental reforms,” and legislate more efficiently — to the current “90-day legislative marathon” in which every issue takes a back seat to the budget. He looks to issues that are waiting in the wings — the inaquequacy of state highways and transportation, the health of the Chesapeake, housing — that will need to be addressed as the population continues to grow over the next two decades, and wonders aloud how a part-time legislature could possibly deal with them. He also believes a professional legislature would counterbalance the power of the governor.

Lazarick, on the other hand, points to a few states that already have year-round legislatures — New York, Illinois, and New Jersey. New York rarely gets its budget passed with more than 24 hours to spare; Illinois regularly pays contractors late; New Jersey imposes taxes that “have Maryland’s beat by a mile.” In short, as far as Lazarick is concerned, a full-time legislature does not translate into a better one. No matter how long they have to pass the budget it will always come down to a chaotic flurry of activity at the last minute.
What do you think?



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