- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Republican lawmakers said yesterday they are concerned about the “left-wing tilt” of state government now that the governor is a Democrat and the party has an stronger control of the legislature.

There is talk of lawsuits and pleas for Gov. Martin O’Malley to veto some measures.

“There is a definite left-wing tilt” now in Annapolis, said House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, Southern Maryland Republican.

House Republicans said that this session, which ends Monday, is the most liberal in years. They pointed to House votes to sidestep the Electoral College and award the state’s 10 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote and to a vote to give in-state tuition to illegal aliens.

“We’re very concerned about the left-wing tilt the Maryland General Assembly seems to have taken,” said Delegate Christopher B. Shank of Washington County and the House’s second-ranking Republican.

As tensions rise in the final days of the session, Republicans are talking about tactics to block Democrats’ ambitions.

Sen. Andrew P. Harris, Baltimore and Harford counties Republican, threatened the filibuster if the tuition issue come to a Senate vote, though that was not yet certain.

“Why don’t we just put a sign on Maryland that says, ‘Open for illegal immigrants?’ ” Mr. Harris said.

Democrats in the Senate have enough votes to stop a filibuster attempt, but it was not clear yesterday whether the dispute would come to that.

The partisan bickering also brought a threatened lawsuit from Delegate Patrick L. McDonough, Baltimore and Harford counties Republican.

He said Republicans would file suit over the tuition bill if it becomes law, and he blasted the House leadership as out-of-control liberals.

“This state used to be a tax-and-spend state,” Mr. McDonough said. “Now it has gone way beyond that.” He also pointed to a measure to restore voting rights for felons with no waiting period after they’ve served their sentences.

“This General Assembly is loaded with lawmakers who support lawbreakers,” Mr. McDonough said.

Democrats said claims the state government has veered sharply to the left are unfair, citing proposals to increase taxes that appear to be defeated and the tuition bill that has not yet passed the full legislature.

Any turn left was caused by pent-up demand for action under four years of a Republican governor, said Senate Majority Leader Edward J. Kasemeyer, Baltimore and Howard counties Democrat.

“Everything has its cycles,” said Mr. Kasemeyer, who pointed to the number of environment-related bills this year, including a requirement for cleaner car emissions.

Democrats bristled at the Republicans’ complaints about the budget.

Though deficits are projected by next year, Democrats say Mr. O’Malley’s first budget did not grow by the same percentage as the final budget submitted last year by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican.

“It’s going to be one of the best legislative sessions we’ve ever had for the environment and the budget,” said Sen. Roy P. Dyson, St. Mary’s Democrat.

Even some Republicans say the legislature’s apparent turn is not as strong as it could’ve been.

Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, Eastern Shore Republican, said he can tell Democrats have stronger majorities in the legislature but are showing “restraint” because they have nobody else to blame if things go badly.

“Now they know they’re going to be looked at because they’re controlling government,” he said.


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