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Opening Remarks to the Maryland General Assembly

Thank you very, very much.  It’s a great honor to be with all of you once again in this chamber.

And I’ll share this story with the Lawton family.  At one point in the very difficult work that you were getting done in that session, I called Delegate Lawton — true story — and I said, Delegate Lawton, this is your Governor.  And she said, ‘Oh, no.’

I said, ‘How does that make me feel?’  And she says, ‘Oh, I know that if you’re calling me, it’ll mean we’re in trouble.’  And you notice what she said — she didn’t say ‘I was in trouble.’ She said ‘we.’ She knew I was calling to ask her to pass bills that were probably not popular to her constituency.  But she said, ‘I know that we’re in trouble.’  Because she knew that we were in this together. And certainly her death really punctuated one of the precepts that I think brings all of us together, which is that everybody in our State is needed and important.

To the Lawton family, thank you for being here today.  There are few people who have served in this chamber that I ever found that did so with greater strength, with greater grace than Jane did.   She was a principled and courageous public servant.  She understood that it was in the arena of compromise that progress is made.  And we want to thank you for sharing her life with all of us and for  continuing to remind us of her tremendous spirit that she was and still is.

This State and this chamber have been changed without her and they were also changed because of her. And important work remains to be done, work that was important to her because it’s important to her neighbors, to her family, and to the community she held dear.

So the members of the General Assembly, on behalf of the people of our State, and in that spirit, thank you for getting our State to move forward again.  Thank you for coming back to this Assembly for the important work that needs to be done.   You know, in the last year one of the editorials, one of the newspapers editorialized we accomplished more together in one year than usually we get done in an entire four years.  But, of course, there’s still more to be done.  There’s an a lot more to be done.

There’s people who are out there who are hurting because of foreclosure, trying to pay their bills and there are people who are working very, very hard to make a better life for their families.  And we owe it to them to continue to make progress and to prove that progress is still possible, because in our State there really is more that unites us than divides us.  We united around our common values, a belief in the dignity of every individual and belief in our own responsibility to advance the common good.

And that’s what we’re going to do in the 90 days ahead under the tremendous leadership of Speaker Busch.  We’re going to do everything in our power to strengthen and grow our middle class, to improve public safety and public education, and to expand the opportunities to learn, to earn, to enjoy the health of people who help more people rather than fewer.

And we’re going to do it as one Maryland, saying as those who’ve come before us, by our actions, our responsibility really is the greatest of freedom’s privilege.

Thank you all so very much for the privilege of being involved in this great endeavor. And thank you again to the Lawton family; it was a privilege having gotten to know your wife and your mom.

Thanks very, very much.

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