- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2001

ANNAPOLIS Gov. Parris N. Glendening called on the Maryland legislature yesterday to work toward his vision of a Maryland where college is free, green space is plentiful, cars aren't needed to get to work and people can choose their roles and partners in society without discrimination.

In the penultimate State of the State address of his administration, Mr. Glendening said that, although the "sun shines brightly on Maryland," needs for universal access to higher education, greater protection of open space and ending discrimination threaten to cloud the state's future.

"If we back away from these challenges and take no precautions against the storm as it gathers, we risk becoming a bitterly divided society," Mr. Glendening told state and local leaders gathered in the House chamber.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George's County Democrat, said Mr. Glendening talked about "laudable" goals.

But Mr. Miller said that the governor's message "wasn't in the middle of the [political] spectrum," and that he can expect opposition from conservatives in both parties when he introduces his homosexual rights bill next week.

"Hopefully what we cannot enact in law the governor can put in effect through administrative orders," Mr. Miller said.

A change in the membership of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee could increase chances that the anti-discrimination measure will go to a vote in the Senate. But the bill, in which legislators are likely to seek exemptions for religious reasons, could be referred to the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Although Senate Minority Leader Martin G. Madden, a Republican representing Howard and Prince George's counties, said his party is open to considering the governor's proposal to increase the state's minority contracting goal from 14 percent to 25 percent, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Howard P. Rawlings said he expects conservatives will make it difficult to win that change.

And even as many lawmakers signaled assent to Mr. Glendening's agenda, key legislators prepared to whittle away at a budget that, in the case of education and smart-growth initiatives, is the chief instrument of that agenda.

"It's kind of bizarre that when you look at the governor's priorities, there's $10 million in merit scholarships and $3 million in need-based, then he says we ought to make college more affordable," said Mr. Rawlings, Baltimore Democrat, who believes the amounts should be reversed.

Mr. Rawlings said the legislature will have to cut $250 million and that Mr. Glendening needed to acknowledge that "we're not in the best economic times."

A sticking point in the House could be the $145 million Mr. Glendening proposes spending to preserve open space.

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