Bill Ferguson's Priorities Highlight the Radical Shift of the State Senate
We're a Long Way From Mike Miller
Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson outline their priorities for the 2023 Legislative Session in a recent story in Maryland Matters.
I want to highlight Ferguson’s priorities here, because they show you just how much things have changed in the last five years.
“There’s so much transition happening,” Ferguson said. “And we’re fortunate to have resources to be able to think really boldly and creatively about where Maryland can go over the next decade. Year one of this term is setting up the four years of this term. We’re not going to solve every problem this year. This year is setting the table for a really important four years ahead, with new leadership, new vision, new representation.”
Ferguson said his top priorities for the session include:
Workforce development — which is also a priority of Moore’s. The legislature set aside $25 million last year for apprenticeship and other job creation programs. The goal this year, Ferguson said, is to “figure out how to set up this structure well.”
Standing up a recreational cannabis industry and providing restorative justice for communities of color that have been most adversely impacted by the war on drugs. Ferguson said he’d like to see licensing and tax and revenue proposals resolved by session’s end, along with the justice piece.
Mental health. Ferguson wants the state to make investments to ensure adequate treatment and facilities for those seeking mental health services, especially young people.
Abortion rights. The Senate was the graveyard for a proposal to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution in 2022, but Ferguson said he expects the measure to pass. And he said he expects the legislature to consider legislation that would shield abortion providers from prosecution for providing the procedure to women from states where abortion is now illegal.
Transportation revenues. With mandates to expand the use of electric vehicles in the years ahead, Maryland may have to move away from the long-held model of using the gasoline tax to fund transportation projects. Ferguson believes this is the year to begin a conversation of what to pay for and how. “In the next five to 10 years, I suspect there’s going to be a massive change, so this is the year to start thinking about, what is our transportation program going to look like — both how do we fund it and what are we investing in?” Ferguson said.
The focus on mental health infrastructure is the only legislative priority here that is in any way going to help the people of Maryland. Ferguson’s other priorities are going to continue to take Maryland in the wrong direction.
Workforce development: We all can agree that apprenticeship programs and alternatives to college are important to the development of the state economy. But the legislature put the baby before the bathwater last year by allocating funding for a program that does not exist, that Ferguson says they now have to figure out how to structure it. But as we know, the best job creation program is for government to not be in the business of creating jobs and instead lowering taxes to facilitate job creation. This is a legislative topic worth watching.
Recreational Weed: I already can’t drive down the street any more and avoid the stench of weed from people hotboxing in their cars, but Ferguson is prioritizing making sure that weed is legalized despite all of the overwhelming evidence that this is a terrible idea that I discussed at length during the Question 4 debate and Maryland’s inability to get medical marijuana right.
Abortion: The euphemisms will continue until morale improves, apparently, as will Ferguson’s apparent continued ability to ignore the Gospel when he goes to Mass.
Transportation revenues: The end of the gasoline tax being a Ferguson priority is going to be a dystopian nightmare. The fact that the gas tax subsidizes the money-losing mass transit that Ferguson covets so much due to the poor fare box recovery rates on MTA properties. What this ultimately means is that Ferguson is going to push the mileage tax on Marylanders, which is going to drive transportation taxes through the roof and ultimately lead to the privacy-crushing digital license plates they are rolling out in California.
We're a long way from having Mike Miller as the President of the Senate. While Miller was a Democrat and pushed Democratic priorities, he was first and foremost an institutionalist who respected the process in the Senate. Miller also, more so than any of the current legislators, believed in Maryland’s “Middle Temperament”, something our Mark Uncapher wrote about recently. Mike Miller was a Democrat, but he was no radical Democrat.
It is radical Democrats who now run the Maryland General Assembly, and it is Ferguson who is pushing a radical agenda that will hurt Maryland’s working families, drive businesses out of state, drive up costs, and damage Maryland’s economic future.
But Ferguson isn’t doing this just on his own whim and fancy. The radical agenda of the Democrats mirrors the radical Long March of the Maryland Democratic Party from liberalism toward radical socialism. Radical gerrymandering by Democrats combined with the loss of competitive seats to radical leftists due to Republican underperforming is what drove this and is giving Ferguson this free hand in the Senate to move the Democratic caucus even further to the left than it already was.
It’s the same song Democrats have been playing for a while. But too much more of this and a lot of Marylanders will be changing their tune….