Local leaders comment on change ahead of session
(Nov. 1, 2019) With long-time state Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller stepping down from that role, local legislators are preparing to work with new leadership in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly when it convenes in January.
Miller, who began treatment early in the year for prostate cancer, cancer, announced last Thursday that he would relinquish the post, one of state politics’ most powerful, after holding it for 32 years.
“I have been blessed to have the life and opportunities I have had, and the opportunity to work with hundreds of wonderful members of the Senate in my time as president,” Miller said in a statement. “Serving the residents of the 27th district is a privilege, and serving my colleagues as Senate President has been the honor of a lifetime.”
Miller will still serve his constituents as the Democratic senator in his district, which covers Calvert, Charles and Prince George’s counties.
He was first elected in 1974 and has been serving as president of the Senate since 1987.
Gov. Larry Hogan expressed his support for Miller.
“I have immense respect for Mike Miller,” Hogan said in a statement. “For the past year, he has shown all of us what courage and determination look like as he faces a very tough personal battle.”
Locally, state senators and delegates are reacting to the change in leadership.
“I definitely think it’s admirable of hi[m] to take that high road, and understand the challenges that he faces with his health, and put Maryland first in stepping aside,” said Delegate Wayne Hartman (R-38C).
Hogan also admired Miller’s dedication to service in the Maryland General Assembly.
“As the longest continuously serving presiding officer in the nation, President Miller has been a strong, unifying leader for the legislature and the state,” Hogan said.
“Without his leadership, I think Maryland would have a lot of policies [that] passed would have been a lot more liberal,” Hartman said. “So I think Mike Miller was actually somewhat of a friend to the conservatives in the grand scheme of things.”
Delegate Charles Otto (R-38A) said Miller was knowledgeable about matters affecting Worcester County, including dealings with the poultry industry and the project involving the expansion of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street in Ocean City.
Otto added that Miller kept an open dialogue and was “always receptive to have local leaders to contact … whatever side of the aisle they were on.”
Hartman also said the new leadership could have an impact on the progress of local bills.
“So it certainly has the ability for us to see big changes in the outcome of legislation in Maryland,” Hartman said.
The Democratic Caucus offered Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-46) as a candidate to replace Miller, according to various media outlets. A new Senate president is expected to be confirmed on Jan. 8, the first day of the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session, according to Maryland Democratic Party Communications Director Arinze Ifekauche.
“We wish the new incoming leadership well, and I hope they’ll listen to our perspectives as well,” Otto said.
Hartman and Otto pointed out that Miller could also serve in an advisory capacity as the Maryland General Assembly has two new leaders for the first time in years.
“I hope he does have more time to devote to his recovery, [and] then he can still be there available, because I’m sure [the] new speaker and a new president will be wishing to have his advice on issues,” Otto said.
In the House of Delegates, Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones was elected after the Speaker Michael Busch died earlier this year.
Hartman also said there will be a learning period within the legislative chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.
“It’s going to take time for us to see how well they both work across the aisle and where their loyalties and supports are going to lie,” he said.
State Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-38) said Ferguson contacted her for a meeting, and added that she hopes the Eastern Shore voices will continue to be heard.
“Senate President Mike Miller often reminded us on the Senate floor that each one of us is not only a senator representing our individual district but also a senator of Maryland,” Carozza said in a statement. “My expectation is that new Senate President Bill Ferguson would continue that Maryland Senate tradition.”