Special Session Lawsuit

A lot of the other Red Maryland contributors do a better job than I do covering current events, so I sometimes skip some ‘reporting’ posts, especially if I am a couple of days late or if the news is about the state or county, which is usually covered very quickly by people a lot more knowledgeable than myself.

I had planned on watching football tonight, while sipping a mug of hot tea and enjoying a nice fire in my fireplace. However, when I lit the wood, my house started filling with smoke–and not because the flue was closed, because I don’t have a flue. With my master plan ruined, I had to revert to plan B: here I stand before you, lonely and desolate, with my laptop humming and the Patriots game on a low-def television in the background. Confident that my information will be useful, I shall proceed.

The content of today’s musings is a factual update on a constitutional challenge to the recent special session. The problem is as follows. According the Maryland Constitution, one chamber of the legislature cannot stand in recess while the other is convened, without having a vote to specifically allow an extended recess, and a message to the convened chamber informing them of what’s going on.

The Senate adjourned on November 9. House records show that the Speaker received notification that day that the Senate would be adjourned until Nov. 15, which would have been fine. However, the timestamp on that notification document was dated Nov. 14! Furthermore, Senate records show that they only planned to adjourn until Nov. 13!

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These discrepancies brought about understandable allegations of forgery, that were first reported here. The possibility of forgery is important because (1) it would mean that somebody is getting impeached and (2) if the proper notification was not given, the special session was unconstitutional and the $1.5 billion in new taxes would be nullified.

Republican lawyer types, particularly Michael D. Smigiel Sr. of Cecil County, raised their concerns on the floor, but were scoffed at. So, after the session ended, Del. Smigel (along with 4 other lawmakers and 1 private citizen) filed a lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the Senate’s recess.

Key to the case is the testimony of the House of Delegates Chief Clerk Mary Monahan, because she would know when the notifications were given, if they were given on time, and if there was any fudging of dates or anything else. Her deposition, scheduled for this past Wednesday, was halted so that the Court of Special Appeals could consider objections raised by the Attorney General. Fortunately, the Court told the Attorney General to shut his mouth, and the deposition is back on for Monday.

I would certainly love for the taxes to be nullified, but the bigger issue is the possible corruption of our elected officials. At every level of government, elected officials show their willingness to obey the law is a discretionary phenomenon–they follow the laws only when it is convenient for them. It would be nice if this perversion of ethics was dealt a punitive blow.

I hope they find a lot out on Monday, because the new taxes are set to take affect on Tuesday!


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