printed 01/04/2019

Following the Maryland General Assembly, which convenes next Wednesday, ought to be interesting this year, given that this area will be sending, for the first time in history, an all-Republican delegation to a legislature controlled by Democrats.

Also in play, regardless of party affiliation, is the enduring friction between the state’s highly populated counties on the other side of the Chesapeake and the more rural outposts on the Eastern Shore.

There was a time, of course, that the Eastern Shore had considerable influence in the legislature by virtue of the seniority its representatives gained after being elected and reelected to term after term.

That ended, more or less, when Del. Norman Conway of Salisbury, chairman of the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee, was defeated in 2014 after his district was redrawn to exclude Worcester County.

Now, Worcester’s legislative fortunes are uncertain, regardless of the current delegations’ good intentions, how hard its members work, or their pledges to reach across the aisle, as it remains to be seen whether the other side will reach back in return.

This comes at a time when Ocean City has some big items on the table, such as legislative approval of the $20 million the Maryland Stadium Authority has been authorized to spend on the third phase of the convention center expansion.

Resort businesses also wouldn’t mind seeing the paid sick leave law adjusted to reflect the seasonal employment situation, but any chance of that happening would depend on some rare forgive-and-forget magnanimity on the Democratic side of the aisle following the defeat last fall of this district’s only Democratic representative.

Gov. Larry Hogan clearly supports the resort area, so his ability to cut deals with the House and Senate will have much to do with how well the coastal communities fare on the major issues in this session.

Naturally, residents and business operators want their representatives to succeed over the next 90 days and will do whatever they can to ensure that happens. Yet to be determined is how much help, if any, they will need.

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