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Conservatives Richard Falknor on 04 Feb 2011 04:49 pm

The Maryland GOP: Who Is Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio?

UPDATE FEBRUARY 5! Delegate Gail Bates reports that the General Assembly misidentified her as a sponsor of a bond bill; in this session, she declares she is sponsoring no bond-billsScroll to bottom to see the relevant text of her email of this afternoon to the Forum.

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Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is the GOP whip in the Maryland House of Delegates, officially the number two person in that chamber’s Republican leadership.

She is a fresh and engaging face for the House of Delegates GOP.

But she sends mixed messages to her own members, and shows too much deference to the Other Teams’ brief.

Here’s an example. Last week she and the GOP House of Delegates Republican leader Tony O’Donnell wrote House Speaker Michael Busch —

“We are writing to inform you that our caucus has taken the official position recommending against the inclusion of legislative bond bills in the FY 2012 budget.

As you know, bond bills increase the state’s capital debt service which is funded through the property tax revenue and supplemented with general fund dollars. According to the Department of Legislative Services, property tax revenue is projected to be $326 million less than debt service costs by FY 2015. With a projected budget deficit in FY 2015 of $1.8 billion, we will be hard pressed to supplement that shortfall through the General Fund. We realize that the bulk of this shortfall is related to debt already issued, but we feel the focus should be on reversing the damage, not making it worse.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

But that didn’t keep Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio from continuing to sponsor two and co-sponsoring three such measures. To see them, open the foregoing link to view the measures with the label “Creation of state debt.”

Speaking of “reversing the damage,” the Republican Whip has voted for three out of the last four Maryland capital budgets.

Nor did the House Republican caucus letter dissuade five other GOP delegates from sponsoring or co-sponsoring state-debt measures: Gail Bates (1); Rick Impallaria (1); Nick Kipke (2); Tony McConkey (1); Addie Eckardt (5).

Apparently the Senate GOP caucus didn’t take a stand against pushing these bond bills. Seven out of the 12 GOP senators did sponsor or co-sponsor them:  David Brinkley (3); Richard Colburn (9); Joe Getty (1);Barry Glassman (1); J.B. Jennings (1); Allan Kittleman (5); E.J. Pipkin  (1). [The General Assembly website updated after our press time indicates senator Pipkin is now sponsoring two four bond bills.] 

A Content-Light GOP Response to the Governor’s State of the State?

Perhaps as a reward for the flexibility of her thinking, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio got the nod to deliver the Republican response to governor Martin O’Malley’s State of the State address.

We report and, of course, you decide. But our view is that the soft Republican response was so vague as to make even a Bob Ehrlich blush. It is all very well to talk in general terms about slowing government spending, improving our economy, and ensuring a stronger future for the state. After all, even the Other Team will say that is what they seek. Several key Maryland concerns, however, were conspicuous by their absence:

  • Maryland is infamously a sanctuary state. This means that illegal immigration, always a fiscal (as well as security and assimilation) problem, is an even graver one in the Old Line State. Not a word about the problem nor specific steps like these here and here to deal with it.
  • Green Statism is a growing economic burden in Maryland.  Apart from a throwaway line on a “new nuclear power plant at Calvert Cliffs,” there are no specifics — either in terms of regulatory relief, or increasing energy supply without government or regulatory subsidy.

As for Maryland pork in all its many permutations, the Republican Whip declared–

“In examining the capital budget, we looked at its effect on our State’s long term debt.  Many legislative members, including myself, have important projects that we would like to have funded, but in light of the economic times we face, our Caucus has asked that these projects not be funded.”

Why doesn’t she, then, withdraw her legislative bond bills?

Of course, individual GOP members in the General Assembly have for some time developed and advanced useful initiatives unremarked in her Republican Response.  Here are a few examples just from this session:

  • Delegate Kathy Afzali introduces HOUSE BILL 288 “Election Law – Qualification of Voters – Proof of Identity.”

Presumably Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio was speaking for all the GOP members of the General Assembly in her Republican Response.

Yet she utters not a word about the GOP Senate caucus decision to oppose gay marriage in Maryland.  Nor about the GOP House of Delegates caucus supporting current Maryland marriage law.

In fairness to Haddaway-Riccio on her Republican Response, there probably is no broad consensus among GOP General Assembly members on many specifics — unlike the much wider consensus in the new majority in the U.S. House. 

But her response represents a foregone opportunity to confront the governor’s unashamedly statist agenda for what it is, and raise a standard to which Maryland’s conservatives can rally.

Or was the Maryland GOP really the party that last November’s conservative revolution forgot?

A Roadmap for Maryland’s Future?

But let’s not lose hope!

General Assembly Republicans need to put together a Roadmap for Maryland’s Future paralleling – – on a state level – – Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future for the House of Representatives GOP.

Representative Paul Ryan began publishing the first version of his Roadmap for America in May 2008 when the prospects for Republicans were looking more and more bleak.

Today the Wisconsin member is chairman of the House Budget Committee and his alternatives to Democratic statism have been framing the national debate for some time.

Unlike Paul Ryan’s national plan, however, we believe a parallel Maryland plan must include values as well as fiscal proposals to be successful — and also address process reforms (”read the bill”) for the General Assembly.

If the Maryland General Assembly GOP entertains any hope of increasing their support among voters of African-American identification, they will have to revisit their cavalier attitude toward social conservatives.  To be politically effective in the African-American community, support for traditional marriage and pro-life vigilance are essential — as is strict immigration enforcement.

Of course, the overwhelmingly Democratic General Assembly will not approve major GOP reforms during the next four years.

As we wrote last month, however

“But nearly every bill must have a hearing, and these hearings can be an opportunity for instructive theater — especially with GOP members working with independent Tea Partyers and grass-roots conservatives. This can be a very useful way to define our issues for a wider public.

Keeping Maryland Out of the Nanny Zone: One modest improvement endearing the Maryland GOP to both constitutional conservatives and libertarian-oriented Republicans would be to insist that Fiscal and Policy Notes accompanying proposed legislation include a Personal Liberty Effect statement like the obligatory Small Business Effect assessment.

Maryland is fortunate in its proximity to Washington, D. C. center-right think tanks. The Heritage Foundation here and here has over many years offered substantial help to Maryland policymakers.

GOP members of the Maryland General Assembly have four years of incumbency (although one would hope they could act earlier rather than later in their term) to develop their Roadmap for Maryland’s Future with real policy specifics.  (Keep in mind that Paul Ryan had to run every two years in a district less conservative than he was and put together versions of his Roadmap.)

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UPDATE FROM GAIL BATES: “Richard, a reporter notified me yesterday about my ‘sponsorship’ of a bond bill for Baltimore County HB 77, but when I contacted the clerks office, they discovered that the co-sponsor should have been Delegate Emmitt Burns, who initialed by my name, not his.  They have corrected this and will reprint the bill.  I am not sponsoring any bond bills this year because of the seriousness of our operating and capital budget problems.(Underscoring Forum’s.)

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