Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Special Session. Finally.

Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Ehrlich announced yesterday - separately and denying credit to one another - that the General Assembly will meet in special session to deal with the looming 72 percent electricity rate increase for BGE consumers.

Finally. Marylanders are absolutely fed up with the pointless bickering that has been going back and forth between Democrats and the Republican governor. Elected officials must transform themselves into leaders. They need to take the initiative and come up with a plan that will reduce the unacceptable increase consumers face beginning next month.

Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled legislature was unable to solve the problem back during the regular session. Hopefully they have had enough time by now to truly consider the issue and come up with something resembling a solution. There is talk that they may have. The Sun reported legislative leaders "have discussed limiting initial rate increases to 15 percent, reconstituting the [Public Service Commission], allowing municipalities to buy power in bulk and resell it to consumers, and requiring Constellation to sell power to BGE at lower rates." The General Assembly should implement a plan along those lines.

And of course a special session is not without exciting political implications. The brawl over the issue has been portrayed in most local media as a debate between Gov. Ehrlich and Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democratic candidate. This is thanks to a lawsuit O'Malley brought challening the increase. Most outlets seem to have forgotten that Montgomery Co. Executive Doug Duncan, O'Malley's opponent in the Democratic primary, is still in the race. Duncan's hometown paper The Washington Post, for example, only gave him one paragraph in its story announcing the session. He got even less in the Baltimore market. This shows that the issue is working in O'Malley's favor in his primary race. Once again, he can cast himself as the inevitable Democratic nominee and make Duncan's ambition seem like an impossible uphill battle. It will also help O'M in the general, where he can argue that he fought against the Governor's rate increase (a stretch of truth, but one that will speak to voters).

Wow. It seems that every once in awhile, political squabbles have important policy implications that impact citizens' lives. Easy to forget this as our federal Senate debates a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

from The League: Reassembled

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