- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

ANNAPOLIS New Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly said yesterday the combination of a Republican governor and their growing ranks in the state House and Senate will help them shape Maryland's budget and focus their attention on such long-standing issues as charter schools.
"For a change, we will actually defend the governor's budget," said state Sen. David Brinkley, a Frederick County Republican who served eight years as a delegate. "We never had any input on [Gov. Parris N.] Glendening's budget, but we will have an input here."
Republicans won eight additional seats this year in the House and one more in the Senate, bringing the count to 43 Republicans in the House and 14 in the Senate.
That was a big win for a party that lost 10 House seats, from 45 to 35, in the 1998 elections.
Republicans won 15 seats in the Senate that year but lost two to defections.
Party officials credited Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., now the governor-elect, for this year's success.
"This is directly related to the Ehrlich effect," said Paul Ellington, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. "He is a dynamic leader with vision and a positive message and that trickled down to the senators and delegates."
Among the 21 freshman Republicans who took the oath of office this week was Delegate LeRoy Myers, who had defeated House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. to represent Western Maryland.
Senate newcomers included House veterans Janet Greenip of Anne Arundel County and first-time politician E.J. Pipkin, a Caroline County businessman who defeated Democratic heavyweight Sen. Walter M. Baker.
Most of the new delegates are in public office for the first time, including Mr. Myers and J.B. Jennings, 28, who owns a small business in Baltimore County.
"We bring some new ideas to the table," Mr. Pipkin said. "We would like to see the size of government fit the revenue stream. I want to see us live within our means."
Lawmakers expect to address such pressing issues as abortion and the death penalty, but said they are eager to help reduce the budget deficit.
Delegate Susan Aumann, Baltimore County Republican and a first-timer, hopes to work with other lawmakers to cut spending.
"People are very concerned about the direction the state was taking, which left us with this horrific impression on the budget," she said.
The lawmakers set about their business as soon as the session opened Wednesday.
Mrs. Greenip's first bill was to allow charter schools in Maryland, one of 13 states without a charter-school law.
Mr. Ehrlich has made charter schools one of his legislative priorities for this session.
The freshmen Republicans also said they will support Mr. Ehrlich's plan to shrink government and implement the Project Exile crime-prevention program.
Lawmakers said the Republicans' gains indicate residents wanted a change from the Democratic leadership.
"I've seen Maryland commit to a turn," Mrs. Greenip said.
"I have watched things move and people in the state have changed. They want what [Mr. Ehrlich] is offering."

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