One of Frederick County’s delegation members could be in a leadership position come Saturday afternoon.
Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll), who has represented District 4 as a senator since January 2015, said Friday he didn’t want to predict the future, but signs did look good for him to be the state Senate’s Minority Whip — the No. 2 Republican within that chamber.
“I put my name in the ring for it, and as of right now, there’s no one opposing me,” Hough said. “... I’ve been having good productive conversations with my Republican colleagues ... so it looks positive.”
The last local senator to serve as Minority Whip was David Brinkley, who represented Hough’s district from 2003-15. He served in that capacity from 2010-11, and also as Minority Leader from 2007-08 and 2013-14.
Earlier this month, Sens. J.B. Jennings and Stephen Hershey announced they would step down from their positions of Minority Leader and Minority Whip. Hough said being in a leadership position would be a good thing for western Maryland and Frederick County, raising the region’s influence on state issues.
“The more prominent you are, the more you’ve been able to get conversations with the Senate president and governor and things like that,” Hough said.
Hough’s colleague in the General Assembly’s higher chamber, Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick), said he’s “fine” with Hough putting in his name for the leadership position.
He added, however, that no matter what position a senator is in, they still need to work their bills through the proper channels.
“I don’t think that position makes you any more or less effective,” said Young, who also serves as the Frederick County delegation’s vice chair.
Del. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll), the delegation chair, was supportive of Hough seeking the position. It puts him in a more influential role when partnerships are vital in Annapolis, he said.
“In Annapolis, you can’t get anything done without working with your colleagues and peers,” Pippy said. “If there’s an opportunity to bringing more people together, to garner a consensus, if he’s put in a position to bring more people together and make that happen, that’s a good thing.”
Gardner holds town hallCounty Executive Jan Gardner held a town hall this week to highlight her legislative priorities for the upcoming session in Annapolis.
Gardner again backed County Councilman Steve McKay’s legislation proposing special elections for sudden vacancies on the Board of Education. She also proposed introducing legislation that would modify the state’s Public Information Act to prevent the disclosure of salaries for county employees who are merit-based.
Those exemptions would not apply to division or department heads, Gardner said earlier this month. She said one of her concerns were companies mining for data, and exposing where county employees may live.
The new law would, if passed and signed by the governor, allow counties only to disclose what salary range county employees were in.
“I think, to protect people from identity theft, we don’t want them to have their exact salary,” Gardner said, referring to data mining companies. “It’s their exact salary down to the penny ... they’ll know their name, their exact salary, it’s easy to find people’s addresses, so I’m really just trying to protect people from having their identity stolen.”
Gardner also plans on pushing for a bill that would prevent developers from passing on infrastructure costs, like road improvements or water and sewer extensions, as separate charges to homebuyers, in the form of liens.
“People reasonably expect the cost of extending to publicly available water or sewer to be included in the price of their homes,” Gardner said during the town hall. “It is a pretty basic component of a new home.”