Brian Frosh (D) will be representing the 16th district in the senate. The 56-year-old Chevy Chase resident served in the House of Delegates from 1987-94 and has been in the senate since 1995.
Like most of those heading to Annapolis this term, Frosh is concerned about the budget.
“The budget is, by far, the 800-pound gorilla in this session,” he said. However, the legislature has to wait for the budget to be given to them by the governor before anything can be done. “He’s really got the whip hand on this,” Frosh said.
So Frosh is turning his attention to other matters. Frosh will chair the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. In this capacity he will have influence over some major issues, including the death penalty, gun control and drunk driving.
Frosh, a self-described environmentalist, plans to introduce some legislation that will not appear before his committee.
“When the state stumbled, or leapt, into deregulation a couple of years ago, we did away with some conservation initiatives,” Frosh said.
He cited examples such as rebates for energy efficient appliances and coupons for fluorescent light bulbs. He would fund these programs with a service charge on utility bills.
Frosh says consumers would make their money back by having more energy efficient appliances around, even if they are not in their own homes.
“When utilities have to go off their grid to buy power, they pay up to ten times the cost of generating it themselves,” Frosh said. According to Frosh this “off-grid” buying frequently comes during the summer months, when people are running their air conditioning, leading to peak demand for electricity. He reasons that if there are more energy efficient appliances around, the power companies will have to go “off-grid” less often, saving money for everyone. “The consumer will make back their investment on that alone,” he said.
Frosh also plans to introduce an amendment to Maryland’s constitution. “It would change the process for deciding on a state circuit court judge,” Frosh said. Under his plan the judges would be appointed by the governor, then approved by the legislature. After that there would be a retention vote yes or no on a particular judge. The current system has potential judges run against each other.
The issue of slot machines may be a contentious one in the upcoming term. Frosh is opposed to the idea, and he is not sure if it will pass. He noted that both the governor and president of the Senate are in favor of the measure, while the speaker of the house is opposed to it. Noting these positions, “the advantage probably goes to the proponents,” Frosh said.
Although this will be his 17th year in the legislature, it will be his first time working with a governor from a different party. He believes there will be difficulties over some issues.
“I know him [Robert Ehrlich (R)], and I like him. Although, I can’t say we’re ideological soul mates,” Frosh said.