December 2022

Spotlight on Maryland

State Dynamics

Maryland is in the midst of a historic shift in leadership. 2022 was the most consequential election in more than a generation with the historic elections of Wes Moore as Governor, Aruna Miller as Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown as Attorney General, and Brooke Lierman as Comptroller.

For the first time since the office of lieutenant governor was recreated in Maryland in 1970, every one of the four statewide, popularly elected constitutional officers has turned over at the same time. Presumably, every cabinet secretary under current Gov. Hogan will also turn over sometime this year.

Add to this the changing of the guard Maryland saw in January 2020 with the new Speaker of the House of Delegates Adrienne Jones (D) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) taking over. This coming January’s session, at least three key committees overseeing health care, energy, appropriations, and many other important issues will be chaired by a different person than last session. Notably, the House Majority Leader plans to join Governor-elect Moore’s administration; additional legislators may follow in coming weeks.

This clean slate also applies to the state’s unique and very powerful Board of Public Works, which approves all state spending and contracts. Its members—Governor-elect Moore, Comptroller-elect Lierman and Treasurer Dereck E. Davis, who was elected by the General Assembly in December 2021—will bring new ideas for how this important board will exert itself.

Maryland legislators and policymakers often like to be first, or among the first states, to embrace and implement progressive policies. With the check of a Republican governor removed, that tendency will surely mean more and farther ranging activist legislation in coming years. Whether they are policies related to transportation, employment, energy, financial services, or more, expect these massive changes to affect nearly every industry in the state.

Federal Dynamics

With Congressman Anthony Brown’s election to Attorney General, Maryland’s 4th Congressional District will now be held by Congressman-Elect Glenn Ivey (D). Ivey’s ascension to Congress is the culmination of a career spent in Maryland and national Democratic politics. Ivey is a former state’s attorney and served as chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD).

Also of note, Congressman Steny Hoyer relinquishes his role as House Majority Leader but will retain his seat and is apparently seeking to be named Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. Hoyer will continue to have tremendous influence on the caucus’s agenda and with individual members he has mentored for decades.

With the change in the House majority, it appears Congressman Andy Harris (R) is in line to become the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies. He has been Ranking Member since early 2021. This committee makes the annual appropriations for the Farm Bill, which is up for renewal this coming year.

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D) will continue his role as Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government while Senator Ben Cardin (D), whose seat is up in 2024, will continue to chair the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Spotlight on New Jersey

State Dynamics

2023 is a legislative election year in New Jersey and will be the first under the newly drawn legislative map, which is expected to be more competitive and result in narrowed majorities in both chambers. Legislative politics tend to be more risk averse in an election year, but the shift from borderline supermajority status to competitive chambers will press those considerations into overdrive and have a substantial impact throughout the 220th legislative session.

Governor Phil Murphy is in his term-limited second term and has a national profile that will lean more progressive than legislative leadership in many circumstances. Often, Democratic control of State Street is tested to find compromise on critical public policy issues.

The top issue on the mind of New Jersey voters for decades has been high taxes, particularly property taxes, which are the highest in the nation and put a special emphasis on economic/affordability issues. Despite this, it is safe to assume that an agenda pushed by legislative leadership will not purely focus on fiscal issues, but rather work towards constituency group accomplishments in a competitive electoral environment.

In recent years, the business community has become increasingly hammered with many new cost drivers from legislative policies, which could set up some battles from business, financial, insurance and related industries. This, combined with lawmakers’ desire to lead the way on progressive public policy initiatives, forecasts an interesting, challenging, and pivotal road ahead for interest groups.

It is fair to say this legislative session may require more defense than opportunity, but being poised and positioned to proactively address it will be important.

Federal Dynamics

Democrats’ congressional delegation advantage went from 10-2 to 9-3 with the defeat of Rep. Tom Malinowski by former State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. Several members who won seats in recent years cemented their foothold in their respective districts, while Rob Menendez, the son of United States Senator Robert Menendez, won the open seat of Rep. Albio Sires, who retired.

The shift in power to a Republican-led Congress should see Rep. Chris Smith in an advantageous position with more than two decades of seniority, while leading Democratic members Rep. Donald Norcross, Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. William Pascrell, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman are strongly positioned to have leading voices within their caucus.