Jean Cryor (R) is the only incumbent from the 15th legislative district. The 64-year-old Potomac resident was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1994.
In addition to being the only incumbent, Cryor is also the only Republican in the 15th district’s delegation. Cryor is looking forward to working with a governor of the same party.
“I think it’s terrific. I am delighted to have access to the Governor,” she said.
Although the assembly has a Democratic majority, she is not concerned that inter-party bickering will get in the way of the state’s business. “I have always believed that, once you get past the partisanship of the first couple weeks, you get down to the business of what needs to be done,” Cryor said.
Although she has several priorities this session, she thinks there is one overriding subject. “Everything will be overshadowed by the budget,” Cryor said.
In recent years, when the state government was flush with money, the fights were over funding new projects or increasing funding to ongoing projects.
Now “the struggle will not be how to get more money — it will be how to hold on to what we already have,” she said.
Cryor sits on the Ways and Means committee, so she will be in a position to influence new tax legislation. She thinks the idea of slot machines, heavily favored by the incoming governor, will pass.
“It will still take time before we start to see the income from them,” Cryor said. She noted that licensing fees paid by those who will be installing the machines will start to generate some revenue more quickly.
She is concerned about a potential hike in the gas tax.
“We already have a high gas tax in Maryland,” she said. She was concerned that Maryland’s proximity to other states with lower gas taxes could drive business to those areas. “If a gas tax is approved, I believe it will be phased in over a couple of years,” she said.
Transportation will be another major concern this session.
“Many campaigned on transportation,” Cryor said. Although funding will be difficult for the cash-strapped state Cryor encourages patience. “It’s a four-year term. Not everything will happen in the first 90 days, or what’s the point of going back,” she said.
She noted several projects as being of high priority. According to Cryor, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project is the most expensive bridge project in the country. She also noted the ICC, Metro Purple Line and light rail along I-270, among others. “It’s essential we get federal funds for these projects,” Cryor said.
Sitting on the Ways and Means committee will place her in a position to have a strong voice in many statewide issues, Cryor said. The committee addresses taxes, education policy, transportation and the lottery.
Cryor is also on the federal relations committee, of particular interest to Montgomery County residents. “We discuss how to have Maryland, Virginia and DC get along while respecting the independence each has to have,” Cryor said.
Cryor plans to introduce several bills this session. One concerns allowing children into the voting booth with their parents. She described a time when she was campaigning at Stone Mill Elementary school.
“A group of 4th graders came up to me and said they were not allowed to watch their parent vote,” she said.
In a time when voter turnout is declining, she says it is important to encourage children to learn about the democratic process. Cryor proposes allowing children up to the age of 12 into the voting booth with a parent. Current law allows children up to 10 to accompany their parents.
She will revisit the idea of a “no-sales-tax” weekend. This would eliminate the sales tax on shoes and clothing priced under $100 for one weekend during the back-to-school shopping season. The last time such an event took place was in August 2001. Not only does this help lower income families, but it also provides a boost to retailers.
Noting the budget crisis, she does not believe it will pass this year, but she still plans to go ahead with the proposal.
“I want to keep the idea alive,” Cryor said.