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General Assembly Welcomes New Faces

Rachel Baye


The start of the 439th session of the Maryland General Assembly Wednesday ushered in a class of 60 new legislators. The 188 members now include a record number of women and the youngest woman to ever serve in the state Senate.

The first day as a new legislator is a lot like the first day of college, said Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, from Baltimore County.

“You just show up at the dorm,” Jennings said. “You haven’t been to class yet. You don’t know who your professors are. You don’t know who’s in class with you. You don’t know who you’re going to hang out with, you know, at the student hall. You don’t know any of it. That’s what today is.”

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan welcomed lawmakers — both new and returning — with promises of bipartisanship and cooperation.

“All of us want to start the session off in good faith, work together with all of you on both sides of the aisle to come up with real, bipartisan, commonsense solutions,” Hogan said.

For Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, the new class of legislators means he can pass the baton as the youngest member of the Senate.

“My very first week, [Senate President Mike Miller] assigned me, ‘the baby senator from Baltimore,’ and it has stuck for the last eight years,” Ferguson said. “Today I have the esteemed honor of presenting to the youngest woman ever elected in the state of Maryland to the state Senate, the Maryland General Assembly’s baby senator award, handed over to Sarah Elfreth.”

Ferguson, who is 35, presented Elfreth, who’s 30, with a small trophy.

But it wasn’t everyone’s first day. The chamber elected Miller Senate President for the 33rd straight year — the longest serving senate president in the country.

Miller, in turn, promised a productive 90 days.

“We’re going to fight for education, health care, the environment, prescription drugs, insurance reform — we got a lot of positive things happening,” he said.

But all that work can wait for day two, he said, after everyone’s gotten settled.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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