Although Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley had some big victories in 2012, including legalizing gay marriage, passage of a Dream Act and voter-approval of a redistricting plan that favors Democrats, he did not get everything.
O'Malley tried hard to convince the legislature to add a sales tax to the gasoline tax to raise more money for roads, bridges and transit. The proposal would have, over a period of years, added about 20 cents a gallon to the cost of gas.
At the time, however, gasoline cost more than $4 a gallon. The idea died in committee.
O'Malley still believes Maryland has underinvested in roads, bridges and transit. And now that gas prices have eased (to about $3.40 a gallon), O'Malley told reporters he will again tackle increased funding for transportation.
"We now have the most congested state (in terms of traffic) of any of the 50 states in the country," the governor told reporters Tuesday in Annapolis. "So, we're already wasting money, sitting in our cars, idling in traffic, watching the gas gauge go down, and we're all paying the price for it. A better solution, it would seem to me, would be to make the investments in mass transit and better highway and better commuter options so that we're not wasting the money in traffic."
Earlier, Governor O'Malley told the annual Democratic legislative luncheon his top priority for the year will be programs that create jobs in Maryland. But the governor told reporters he will also again attempt to convince the legislature to repeal the death penalty, and he will put forth ideas on gun control. In that area, the governor will have an ally in House Speaker Michael Busch, also a Democrat.
Busch told the luncheon, like most Americans, he watched the television coverage.
"When the 20 children and six adults were killed in Connecticut in Newtown, Connecticut ... I was sickened. Then I was enraged. Then I said to myself: somebody ought to do something about that. And the person who should do something about that is me and all the other elected officials in this room."
After the luncheon, Busch told reporters he sees no hunting purpose for ammunition magazines that hold large numbers of bullets.
But the speaker of Maryland's House also said the legislature should review school safety issues and whether the state's mental health programs are adequate.
The Maryland legislative session, which begins Wednesday, will last for 90 days.