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Posted on June 09, 2006:
By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson
During the course of a series of meetings in Annapolis this past week, I was the first person to sign a petition “requiring the governor to issue a proclamation to convene an Extraordinary Session of the [Maryland] General Assembly.”
According to the Attorney General’s office, this is the first time the Maryland legislature has petitioned the governor to call for an Extraordinary Session.
One may be wondering what all this fuss about an Extraordinary Session is about when in virtually every year, we meet for 90 days a year beginning on the second Wednesday of January and ending on the second Monday of April --and why the legislature needs to petition the governor to call for one.
According to The Constitution of Maryland, “a Proclamation convening the General Assembly in extraordinary session must be issued by the Governor if a majority of the Members elected to the Senate and a majority of the Members elected to the House of Delegates join in a petition to the Governor requesting that he convene the General Assembly in extraordinary session and the Governor shall convene the General Assembly on the date specified in the petition.”
The reason Democrats and Republicans alike are petitioning for this session is to address the issue of electric rate relief that is pending for Pepco and Constellation/BGE customers beginning on July 1.
Electric rates are going up more than 36 percent for Pepco customers and 72 percent for Constellation/BGE customers unless the legislature intervenes on behalf of more than a million Marylanders who will be affected by this rate increase.
This issue came about because of several factors. A bill that passed in 1999 that deregulated the industry was one I did not support and did not vote for because I believed it was setting a dangerous precedent. Unfortunately, the bill did become law after several Democrats and all Republicans voted for it. That legislation was designed to foster competition, but that competition never came about and now the high-profit conglomerate energy companies such as Constellation are taking full advantage of their customers. This is wrong.
Many of you in Southern Maryland wrote to me asking me to sign this petition because while we are not affected by these outrageous rates because we have a responsible energy provider in SMECO, they have family members and friends who are subject to the exorbitant rate increases they are facing from Pepco and even worse from Constellation.
I have written in the past about my support of Senate Bill 1102 which I co-sponsored during the regular General Assembly Session. This legislation would have abolished the current Public Service Commission and replaced them with more responsible members who would look out for the public rather than the energy companies.
This legislation was introduced on March 24 when it was discovered that four out of five Public Service Commission members were holding secret meetings with the governor’s staff (an action that later was rebuked by the State Ethics Commission); its chairman was sending e-mails regarding pending electric rate legislation to a lobbyist for Pepco and Constellation Energy and was also taking hunting trips and procuring free baseball tickets to Houston Astros games with industry executives. This coziness between the utilities industry and the PSC is why I have little confidence in the PSC doing the public’s business.
Because of my low level of confidence in the PSC, I was pleased when Senate Bill 1102 passed in both chambers of the General Assembly. I was not happy that the governor vetoed it and time ran out in the regular Session for the General Assembly before we were able to override his veto. This bill will be one that the legislature will most likely take up to override the governor’s veto during the Extraordinary Session. We will also discuss ways to provide rate relief.
On another note, something my colleagues will see when they come into Annapolis that they did not when they left in April is a stunning new memorial right when they head into the government complex of the capital city.
This is the Maryland Fire-Rescue Services Memorial. The Memorial, which will commemorate all of the brave fire, rescue and EMS personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty, is an incredible sight. The official unveiling ceremony of the Maryland Fire-Rescue Services Memorial will be held June 11. However, it is in place and is an incredible site worthy of those brave men and women who are being honored at this sacred site.
Roy Dyson is the Maryland State Senator for District 29-which encompasses Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's counties. Representatives to the state senate are elected in each gubernatorial election year for four-year terms.
Mr. Dyson's website is located at http://www.roydyson.com/. His office can be reached at (301) 994-2826 (Great Mills) or 1-800-492-7122 Ext. 3673 (Annapolis). More biographical info on Mr. Dyson can be found at http://www.wiki.somd.com/index.php/Roy_Dyson.
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