General Assembly’s Priorities: Dogs in the Back of Pickup Trucks

Posted on April 14, 2009


The Maryland General Assembly is an obsolete legislative institution. Its rules and procedures make it dysfunctional as a modern governing body. Fortunately, the General Assembly is also irrelevant; therefore, it can do little damage.

The recent presidential election and the continuing economic crisis have clarified the following reality: In the United States of America, the federal government dominates the states, and the president dominates the federal government. Moreover, financial institutions, multinational corporations, and regulatory systems — all outside the realm of democracy — rival the power of the president. The states are at the mercy of the federal and economic powers that be.

Where does that leave Maryland? Control of the state government is in the hands of the governor. The comptroller, treasurer and attorney general have some circumscribed responsibilities.

And the General Assembly? The General Assembly devotes a great deal of energy to issues such as dogs in the back of pickup trucks, and rewriting the words to the state song. Sort of like fiddling while the world economy burns down.

Several times each session, senators and delegates muster their will to ratify federal mandates regarding drivers’ licenses or standardized testing in schools. And don’t forget, the General Assembly elects the state treasurer.

The Senate and the House of Delegates waste most of their time on distractions and trivia. — Bernie Hayden