The Prince George’s delegation in Annapolis is beginning the 2011 legislative session with some key goals. Most include getting funding for the county as it tries to stabilize its school system and create new jobs.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has been working hard with the Prince George’s delegation to ensure the county gets its fair share. With a $77 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2012, he wants to get every penny he can from Annapolis.

“My legislative priority is protecting the County and making sure we get the funding we need,” said Baker. “The state has made several commitments to Prince George’s County, and I will not back down until they are fulfilled.”

The delegation in Annapolis appears to be on the same page as they recognize the dire straits of the Prince George’s budget.

“Obviously, we’re trying to do all we can to keep our county from suffering more than it has to financially when it comes to money we’ll get from the state,” Del. Jolene Ivey, D.-Dist. 47, said.

Ivey acknowledged another area of concern for the county‘s elected officials. She‘s also working on ethics reform bills that she says will “provide the most honest government and most effective government that we can, for the people we serve.”

The ethics legislation is being pushed through by Baker, who has already done things locally to address the issue by looking into the county’s credit card and automobile take-home policies and creating the Accountability, Compliance and Integrity Board. Now, he wants new laws on the books to fight the corruption, which was well documented under the previous administration.

“These bills represent a balanced approach to address past bad practices,” Baker said in a statement. “They are not an attempt to upset the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.”

One bill that Baker is trying to get passed would close a loophole allowing council members to vote on cases in which they have received campaign contributions through a slate. Another bill would prohibit council members from seeking review of site plan cases by the planning board where there has been no appeal. This bill was put in because of alleged cases where council members have reviewed cases to receive some benefit from developers.

It appears the Prince George’s delegation is on board with Baker in this regard as well. Del. Dereck E. Davis, D.-Dist 25, is working with Ivey and others in Annapolis to get the legislation passed.

“I applaud the county executive for proposing to close a significant loophole in an otherwise sound public policy decision made by the General Assembly two decades ago,” Davis said in a statement. “It is imperative that we do everything we can to restore public trust in our government as we continue on the path from good to great.”

The Prince George’s delegation is also working on bills preventing cell phone towers from being built on or near school grounds as well as making direct wine shipments legal in Maryland.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO