- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Comptroller Peter Franchot yesterday proposed resurrecting a Glendening administration initiative to increase energy efficiency in public buildings.

Mr. Franchot, a Democrat, suggested that Gov. Martin O’Malley consider an executive order former Gov. Parris N. Glendening passed in 2001 that established energy efficiency requirements for public buildings. Mr. O’Malley and Mr. Glendening also are Democrats.

“We have been told that we can’t have green buildings because it costs too much,” Mr. Franchot said at the state’s Board of Public Works meeting.

Republican lawmakers responded by urging caution when dealing with new spending items.

“We ought to proceed slowly and understand the actual costs of this,” said House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, Southern Maryland Republican. The costs of schools and public construction are “already through the roof and stressing our budget.”

Other state Republicans said they were surprised to see the comptroller push for policy changes through the three-member Board of Public Works, which is composed of Mr. Franchot, Mr. O’Malley and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, also a Democrat.

“The comptroller still does not seem to understand the concept of his job,” said Audra Miller, Maryland Republican Party spokeswoman. “He is no longer in the legislature and should not be spending money that our state does not have.”

The members approve public construction and maintenance contracts. They closely question state agency directors and employees but do not make policy decisions.

Executive orders can be passed only by the governor. Though Mr. O’Malley has said he supports environmental initiatives, he did not say whether he would actively push the “green buildings” issue.

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, did not enforce Mr. Glendening’s executive order.

Executive orders last until they are superseded by a new order or legislation, or have an expiration date.

Since Mr. Franchot defeated William Donald Schaefer in the comptroller race and took office in January, he has used board meetings to push such priorities as cleaner energy and more state contracts for minority-owned businesses.

Mr. Franchot, a former state delegate from Montgomery County, also yesterday criticized a member of the state’s higher education community for not having Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan with him at the meeting.

“In the legislature, we used to reduce budgets for agencies whose secretaries had better things to do than come talk with us,” Mr. Franchot told a representative from the University System of Maryland.

He then asked the university system to consider energy efficiency, too.

“When you come with a new contract, think green,” Mr. Franchot said.

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