Maryland Lawmakers Reject Bill on Legislative Pay Hike

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The House of Delegates has rejected a measure that would have forced them to vote on their planned salary increase, rather than letting it take effect automatically.

Legislators are set to receive a 15.7-percent pay raise over the next four years. It will be their first since 2006.

Under the state constitution, a legislative commission recommends periodic adjustments to lawmakers’ salaries. They take effect automatically unless legislators vote to reject them.

Del. Cathy Vitale of Anne Arundel County submitted a bill rejecting the next raise. She urged colleagues Tuesday to let her bill bypass the committee system and go straight to the House floor.

Her request failed by a 48-87 vote.

With just a few days left in the session, her bill likely won’t clear the committee.

If Vitale’s bill had gone straight to the House floor, each legislator would have had to cast a direct vote on the salary increase.

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, said letting the increase take hold automatically would be tantamount to suppressing the citizens’ voices. As representatives of the people, legislators should vote on the issue directly, he said. And he predicted that if Vitale’s bill went to the committee system, it wouldn’t resurface.

“This is your one and only chance,” he said. “Because one of the failures of the committee system is that not every bill gets a vote.”

Del. Heather Mizeur, a Montgomery County Democrat running for governor, said she believes the pay increase is warranted. Nevertheless, she voted to let Vitale’s bill go straight to the House floor.

Other Democrats warned that suspending the ordinary rules for this bill would have set a dangerous precedent.

It would have taken 94 votes to let Vitale’s bill bypass the committee system.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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