Commentary

printed 04/12/2019

Just when it appeared that Ocean City would go 0-3 at the plate in this past session of the General Assembly, the resort collected a clutch home run in the last inning.

That’s when the legislature approved $24 million in state money for the expansion of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center that’s been on the list of things to do since 2016.

That made up for everything else Ocean City wanted but didn’t get, including a tougher special event zone law and a revised paid leave law that granted some relief to businesses that employ seasonal workers.

While not specific to Ocean City, the assembly’s rejection of the post-Labor Day school start seemed to be a bit of a slap at the resort, while the one-size-fits-all minimum wage legislation added to the burden for counties whose businesses are seasonal or aren’t as robust as those of the metropolitan areas.

But still, a coordinated effort by local and state officials and former state officials turned this session into a major success for the resort area by getting this one very big thing through on the legislature’s final day with a little more than an hour to spare.

As Sen. Mary Beth Carozza observed in her comments on the issue, help on the convention center funding bill came from all quarters: Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, Del. Wayne Hartman, Senate President Mike Miller, former Sen. Jim Mathias, with whom Miller reportedly spoke before the vote was brought to the floor, and Gov. Larry Hogan, who authorized the spending by the Maryland Stadium authority.

What the bill’s passage shows, given that Ocean City and Worcester County sent Republican legislators into a Democratic stronghold, is that the General Assembly will clear away the usual ideological obstacles when the benefit to the state overall is apparent.

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