Monday, April 05, 2010

MoCo Delegation Defeats Prince George’s Minority Contracting Grab

In an earlier post, we detailed an attempt by the Prince George’s Delegation to acquire veto power over any changes to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s (WSSC) minority contracting program. WSSC’s current program has been declared unconstitutional by its own legal counsel, but the Prince George’s legislators are eager to protect current minority contractors who benefit from it because they are significant political supporters. So the Prince George’s legislators, aided by Montgomery Delegate and Congressional hopeful Delegate Herman Taylor (D-14), wrote a bill requiring that any minority contracting changes receive General Assembly approval prior to enactment. But because WSSC serves both counties, the bill had to pass both the Prince George’s and Montgomery delegations to get to the General Assembly floor. And that proved to be its undoing.

The Prince George’s delegation passed the bill by a 19-0 vote on March 5. The Montgomery delegation first voted on the bill on March 26. At that time, the bill received eleven votes in favor and ten votes against. But it did not pass because it did not receive a majority of the Montgomery delegation’s twenty-four votes, thus relegating it to “limbo.” That was because House Chairman Brian Feldman (D-15) abstained, as chairs usually do, and Delegates Al Carr (D-18) and Tom Hucker (D-20) were absent. However, the bill’s supporters brought it up for a second vote on April 2. This time, eleven legislators voted in favor, six voted against, six abstained and one was absent. The bill thus went into limbo again and is dead for this session.

The interesting fact here is that some legislators changed their votes. They include:

Delegate Heather Mizeur (D-20). She voted nay the first time and was absent the second time.

Delegate Tom Hucker (D-20). He was absent the first time and voted yea the second time.

Delegate Al Carr (D-18). He was absent the first time and abstained the second time.

Delegate Sheila Hixson (D-20). She voted nay the first time and yea the second time.

Delegates Saqib Ali (D-39) and Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-18). They voted nay the first time and abstained the second time.

Delegates Bill Bronrott (D-16) and Ben Kramer (D-19). They voted yea the first time and abstained the second time.

The key votes here belong to Hucker, Hixson, Bronrott and Kramer. Hixson and Hucker supplied two new yea votes. Bronrott and Kramer deprived the bill of two yea votes it formerly had. So in both instances, the bill fell two votes short of the thirteen it needed to pass the MoCo delegation. And so the Prince George’s delegation’s plan to exert direct control over WSSC minority contracting has failed – at least for now.