ANNAPOLIS – As the legislative session wound down Monday, Eastern Shore lawmakers said the session was unexciting, but they were pleased that several area projects received funds.
Del. Kenneth Schisler, R-Talbot, Eastern Shore delegation chairman, said he was disappointed in the session overall, calling it “mostly unimpressive.” He said the large number of new lawmakers faced a strong learning curve, which slowed the Legislature’s progress.
Sen. Richard Colburn, R-Dorchester, agreed, saying his ninth session was “lackluster, the most relaxed I’ve ever seen.”
Lawmakers said funding for Eastern Shore projects highlighted local impact this year.
Del. Adelaide Eckardt, R-Dorchester, said she was especially happy about funding for Sailwinds Park in Cambridge. A 13,000 square foot visitor’s center was originally designed, costing $3.7 million. After negotiations, however, the funding was reduced to $2.8 million, decreasing the size of the facility to 6,000 square feet.
Schisler said although the center will be smaller than originally planned, “it should still be an impressive facility, and will bring people into the area off of Route 50.”
Eckardt said another big success was $600,000 for an Eastern Shore Area Health Education Center, which will bring college students who are training for health professions into rural areas to provide care.
Schisler called the center “an important component to bring and keep health professionals at the shore.”
Colburn was happy with legislation that will benefit Dorchester County, including a bill authorizing county commissioners to incur debt to finance county projects. Another bill will allow the county government to grant a property tax credit on personal property.
Del. Bennett Bozman, D-Worcester, said he thought the Eastern Shore “fared very well” this session. He was glad to see funding for several Eastern Shore projects, including Echo Hill Outdoor School in Kent County, the Eastern Shore Baseball Foundation and Whitehaven Hotel in Wicomico County.
Del. Mary Roe Walkup, R-Kent, said she was pleased with the session, and sees a positive impact for the shore and the state.
For example, she said a measure to help small businesses by establishing a neighborhood business development program will benefit communities across the state, and have an impact on the shore. “This is where the action ought to be,” she said.
Walkup thought the Eastern Shore delegation members worked well as a team. “I’m glad to see members respecting each other’s perspectives and considering the state’s interests,” she said.
Eckardt agreed that the Eastern Shore delegation worked well together, and has “laid the groundwork for taking positions for the shore” in future sessions. She said as a freshman she has learned a lot about the legislative process, and will be more aggressive to get bills passed next year.
Schisler said the delegation worked together effectively to defeat gambling legislation. “That was one instance where the delegation worked as a team to defeat a bill that would have been harmful to the shore,” he said.
Bozman, however, said the delegation’s voting record “has not been as solid as before” and thinks teamwork is something the group need to improve. “Next year we should have less partisan politics, and get back to what’s best for the shore,” he said.