What is the Special Session All About?

Thank you for visiting my new website! I am very excited to have a forum where I can effectively communicate with my constituents regarding my day-to-day work on behalf of our State and the 11th District, and the issues we all care most about.

It is a rare opportunity for me to provide a special Annapolis Report in anticipation of the "once a decade" 2011 Special Session. As the General Assembly's Special Session approaches on Monday, October 17, I hope this background as to its purpose will inform my readers and constituents of the anticipated agenda for the short, likely three day exercise.

Governor O'Malley has convened the General Assembly for a special session to address legislative reapportionment and redistricting in light of the 2010 Census results. Every ten years, after Census results are collected, there is a national re-evaluation of political district boundaries at the county, state, and congressional levels. A core function of all state legislatures is to approve of any changes to the State's political district boundaries.

While each state is unique, in Maryland the Governor, the Senate President, and the House Speaker appoint a committee that makes recommendations as to how political districts should be updated to reflect Census findings. After much deliberation and public input, the committee submits its recommendation to the Governor for alteration or approval. The Governor then reconvenes the legislature for a "special session" where he submits his proposed plan to the General Assembly for consideration and, ultimately, the requisite legislative approval.

Many have inquired as to whether any other legislative issues will be raised for consideration during the Special Session. In fact, I have received numerous constituent inquires about tax legislation and other revenue matters, not to mention marriage equality bills. Despite the overriding purpose of the Special Session, the law does allow for any issue to be raised during any meeting of the General Assembly, so any legislator may submit any bill for introduction.

Nevertheless, I am unaware of any other legislation that will garner serious debate during the Special Session. Given conversations I have had with my colleagues, I anticipate all non-redistricting bills to be quarantined in the Rules Committee, even if hearings and debates are scheduled in committees of jurisdiction. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, with jurisdiction over matters of taxation and election law among other subjects, during the Special Session I anticipate the committee will only address matters of election law, of which I coincidentally chair the subcommittee.

I look forward to reporting to you again very soon, after the Special Session, to report the outcome of our State's redistricting.

To my Jewish readers, I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year, and to all of you I wish you a peaceful and meaningful beginning of autumn. I eagerly await the beginning of the 2012 legislative session so that I may once again represent the interests of my constituents in Annapolis. In the meantime, please stay tuned for my next Annapolis Report.

Jon S. Cardin