The Maryland General Assembly has reconvened for its 90-day session amid big fanfare, a budget crunch and several crucial items to face.

One of those items is a same-sex marriage bill. The bill, defeated in a controversial move last year after one of the co-sponsors, Del. Tiffany Alston, D.-Dist. 24, had a change of heart voted against it, is expected to be a hot topic again and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups are ready to provide support for the fight.

One of those groups, the newly formed Maryland Corporate Council, a LGBT-focused networking group, has already called on state legislators and Gov. Martin O’Malley to make same-sex marriage a reality in Maryland.

Speaking of O’Malley; he attended the opening day of the legislative session and spoke of the need for the state’s legislators to focus on job creation.

“Maryland is leading the way, we’re moving forward, and we’re doing it because we know and we acknowledge by the choices that all of you have had the courage to make,” O’Malley said. In order for a modern economy to create jobs, we must not only be strong enough to make the right cuts, we also have to be strong enough to make the right investments; like investments in making college more affordable, investments in education, investments that protect and defend the tremendous quality of life that we have in our State.”

One specific investment O’Malley is calling on the General Assembly to make is in school construction. O’Malley lauded his administration’s devotion into improving the quality of the state’s when in 2010 he pledged to earmark $250 million each year to school construction. Now he’s asking that Maryland’s legislators not only meet, but surpass his deeds.

“Today, we’re here to do $100 million better. We’re asking the General Assembly to invest $372 million in FY2013 to recapitalize Maryland’s future with new investment in school construction,” O’Malley said in a statement. “Combined with the local dollars it will leverage, we estimate that this investment will support 11,650 jobs.”

There are specific bills of concern to Prince George’s County as well. Sen. Joanne C. Benson has introduced a bill to create a commission to examine the mission, operations and marketing plan of the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro and whether the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission is currently doing an effective job operating and managing the venue.

Another bill, introduced by Del. Barbara Frush, D.-Dist. 21, would transfer certain powers of the County Council, when acting as the District Council, to a new Board of Planning and Zoning Appeals in Prince George’s County. This board would be allowed to approve certain zoning map amendments and special exceptions.

This would be done to create more transparency in the zoning process in the county.

Given the expected discussion of the future of slots at Rosecroft Raceway, a bill authorizing the holder of a video lottery license to offer table games has been introduced by Sen. Katherine Klausemeier, D.-Dist. 8. This is an important bill as Sen. C. Anthony Muse has said that this is the kind of gaming he would prefer at Rosecroft, an idea that powerful Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller tepidly supported according to reports.

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO