Baltimore County took a crucial step toward a partially-elected school board after the House Ways and Means Committee voted Monday to pass an amended school board bill—despite County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's opposition.
The bill, which calls for establishing a six elected- and five-appointed member board, passed out of the committee with about 30 minutes left before the midnight deadline.
But the measure ran out of time and was not voted on by the full General Assembly just minutes before the deadline expired.
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a sponsor of the bill in the Senate, criticized Kamenetz for his efforts to thwart the move to an elected school board.
"He wasted a lot of people's time trying to kill this bill," said Zirkin. "When Dutch (Ruppersberger) and Jim Smith were here working together meant working in concert with your county executive. This session we were working to defend ourselves against our own county executive."
"It was a complete loser of a session for Baltimore County," said Zirkin, who vowed to make this the first bill he introduces in the next session.
"This isn't over," said Zirkin. "This isn't going away."
Legislators in the House and Senate started holding up bills Kamenetz wanted passed as retribution for his work against the school board bill.
In the House, Del. John Olszewski Jr. tried to put a good face on the events.
"It's gone further than it's ever gone before," said Olszewski. "We made more progress on this than we ever made before. People were really engaged in this and that's healthy."
Several legislators said the bill was scheduled to come up next for a vote just as the clock struck midnight and the session expired. The bill languished for three days in the House Ways and Means Committee waiting for a vote to concur with amendments made in the Senate.
The bill finally began to move after county delegates threatened to vote against a bill that would expand slots to a sixth location in Prince George's County and legalize table games.
Del. Sheila Hixson, a Montgomery County Democrat and committee chairwoman, apologized to her colleagues late Monday night. She said that the committee's policy to hold local bills opposed by a county executive was being overridden.
"There are political considerations," Hixson told the committee.
House Speaker Michael Busch acknowledge the trade but declined to characterize it as an ultimatum.
"The delegation wanted this bill and the delegation had something to trade," said Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County delegate who serves on the committee. "It's not often that the delegation is united but we showed that when we are united we have tremendous power."