WaPo: Maryland House Speaker Facing "Tough Road Ahead" on SSM


The Washington Post on the unusual methods being used to push the same-sex marriage bill forward in the House:

In a sign of the tough road ahead for same-sex marriage legislation in Maryland, House Speaker Michael E. Busch said Monday that he would assign this year’s bill to two committees instead of one, a procedural change that could increase the measure’s chances of passage.

Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said the decision would allow more delegates to closely examine the controversial measure, which died unexpectedly on the House floor last year after narrowly passing the Senate.

But critics said the move suggests the votes are not there this year to advance the bill from the Judiciary Committee, the House panel that approved it last year, to the full chamber.

At times in the past, when bills have been “jointly referred” to two committees, House leaders have used a majority vote from just one panel as justification to send legislation to the floor. House rules are largely silent on such situations but grant the speaker considerable leeway on committee assignments.

“This issue is way too important to be playing games with,” House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert), an opponent of same-sex marriage, said upon learning of Busch’s decision. “I guess it shows a great lack of confidence in the Judiciary Committee. I think that committee is capable of doing the job.”

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