Carozza, Hartman discuss successes and challenges in Maryland Gen. Assembly
(April 12, 2019) Freshman Del. Wayne Hartman (R-38C) and newly elevated Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-38) have just finished their inaugural sessions in their respective houses of the General Assembly, and while Carozza served as this district’s delegate before she became a senator, Hartman acknowledge that he faced something of a learning curve.
“I think it went smoother than I expected,” he said of the session that ended Monday night. “I mean I came up here with a lot of anxiety as to how the process would work.”
Hartman said he had to learn various systems and adjust to an assignment on the House Judiciary Committee.
“As all of that worked itself out, things got easier every day,” he said.
On the other hand, Carozza knew what to expect in the upper chamber of the legislature.
“I do believe the first year allowed for the early building of new bipartisanship coalitions,” she said. “That will be crucial to future session[s].”
Hartman said he encountered some difficulty with political bridge building, as “very few votes are bipartisan as much as you may try.”
When asked about a challenge he faced, he joked, “the Democrats.”
Of the 47 members of the Senate, the Democrats have an overwhelming majority with 32 members to the Republicans’ 15. The percentages aren’t much different in the House of Delegates where, of its 141 members, 99 are Democrats and 42 are Republicans.
“In all sincerity, the biggest challenge we have is the limited number of Republicans, and the small voice we have,” Hartman said.
Among several pieces of important legislation this year was the minimum wage bill that would lead to a $15 minimum hourly wage by 2023. Carozza and Hartman both opposed the legislation, which passed in the House 93-41, and the Senate 32-12.
Although Carozza introduced an amendment that would have created a regional tiered system with different minimum wages, which failed in a 29-18 vote, having picked up the support of three Democrats.
“While my amendment did pick up some bipartisan support, [there was] not enough for it to pass, and therefore, I voted against the minimum wage increase and voted to sustain Gov. Hogan’s veto,” she said.
“One initiative I will bring back (in the next session) is extending the seasonal exemption to the paid sick leave to 120 days,” she said.
As for Ocean City, the resort town received a big win when the legislature approved the bill that sends$24 million in Maryland Stadium Authority money to ocean city for its convention center expansion project.
Carozza praised the efforts of several key players involved in getting the legislation passed, including Mayor Rick Meehan, Hartman, Senate President Mike Miller and former District 38 Sen. Jim Mathias.
“All of them played a key role into making sure this legislation passed the night before, basically on sine die, the last night of session,” she said.
Meanwhile, the impact of a measure instituting some of the Kirwan Commission’s education reform recommendations remains to be seen, as the school funding formulas for the counties has yet to be established.
How the formula will work won’t be known until next December.
“I had to vote on this piece of legislation not knowing the benefit that it’s going to bring to my district,” Hartman said. “So that was hard.”
However, he said he’s been working with the Worcester County Commissioners and the state to adjust the funding formulas more in favor of Worcester County.
As for next session, Hartman said he plans to take an aggressive approach on combatting legislation he deems harmful.
“I found in my first session up here, I found that our role up here, I think, can be better spent … trying to fight bad legislation that comes from the majority,” he said.