The St. Mary’s County GOP victors held a celebration party following the November election. Attendees included legislative winners (left, front row) Steve Waugh and Deb Rey and (left and right back row) Tony O’Donnell and Matt Morgan.

Annapolis, MD — The state’s legislators will be sworn in at noon on Wednesday at the start of the 2015 Maryland General Assembly session in Annapolis. When that happens the St. Mary’s County Delegation will transform from 25 percent Republican to 100 percent GOP. Newly elected Senator Steve Waugh (29) and Delegates Matt Morgan (29A) and Deb Rey (29B) will join long-time Delegate Tony O’Donnell (29C).

The new legislators will also join Republican Governor Larry Hogan in a state that is still controlled by Democrats. The party dynamics will be on display for the 90-day session. An early indication of what is likely to occur will be unveiled in Hogan’s budget submission to the legislature next week.

Waugh, Morgan and Rey were elected in November on a conservative platform that included rollbacks of some of the eight-year O’Malley Administration’s tax and social policies. The new St. Mary’s County legislators are preparing to partner with Gov. Hogan in those endeavors.

But in the meantime the three legislators-elect had to prepare for a new journey in their life that did not include up to this point any previous elective office. And they have to learn how to navigate the often puzzling world of Annapolis, with its evolving technology coupled with some still arcane ways of doing business.

Waugh, Morgan and Rey all attended a two-day orientation session for new legislators in early December and all found that to be helpful. Their normally hectic holidays had the added task of opening offices, hiring staff and learning such things as how to navigate the underground passages that link their office buildings with the state house.

In phone interviews with the Bay Net last week, all said they had agendas for their first year in office. Perhaps the most controversial will be Morgan’s plan to introduce a bill to eliminate the business personal property tax in St. Mary’s County. If passed the bill would mean a $3.2 million reduction in tax revenues received by the St. Mary’s County Commissioners.

Morgan believes the lost revenue to the county can be made up of revenue generated by job creation, business expansion and extra monies available for business to purchase goods and services. Morgan said he ran on a platform of enhancing business friendliness. “Getting rid of that (the business personal property tax) will help,” he said.

Morgan noted that Charles County has the second highest business personal property tax rate in the state and St. Mary’s eliminating theirs would put the county at a competitive advantage with its neighbor.

Morgan plans to work with Hogan in his goal to reduce taxes. He said, for instance, he would like to slow the increase in the gas tax, noting that gas prices in Dahlgren, VA just across the Potomac are below $2.

Morgan said he has talked to Hogan twice since the election and talks to the House Minority Leader Delegate Nicholaus Kipke (R: Anne Arundel) regularly.

Morgan’s wife and two children will be attending the swearing in on Wednesday. He will be located in Room 317 in the House office building. He has hired Louise Beacom, who has worked previously with several delegates, to be his legislative aide.

Rey will operate out of Room 319. She has hired a legislative veteran, Stephanie Troxell, to be her legislative aide.

Rey has as a priority amending as much as possible O’Malley’s Firearms Safety Act. She said if possible she would like to remove the provision requiring paying for training. She asked what other right under the Constitution requires payment to exercise. She said she is perfectly capable of training her kids on how to use firearms without having them pay for such training.

Rey also plans on working to repeal the controversial “Rain Tax.”

Rey noted that the legislative freshman orientation included a bus tour around the state, including the Naval Academy, University of Maryland at College Park and Baltimore and the university research center at Horn Point on the Eastern Shore. She found the tour to be very informative.

After the swearing in on Wednesday, Rey and her family will attend an invitation only reception at the Naval Academy.

Waugh’s number one priority is the “killing for good” of the Eastern Shore wind turbine project which is so strongly opposed by the Navy and the local business community. He has met with Navy leaders and believes Hogan is on board to quash the project. He hopes to bring Hogan down to the base “to make sure he has a full, deep understanding” of the issue.

Waugh’s office will be on the second floor of the Senate Office Building in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs suite of offices. He has hired as his legislative aide Jessica Hackett, who formerly worked for Sen. Richard Coburn of the Eastern Shore.

Waugh’s family, including his brother, aunt and uncle, and mother from out of town, will be attending the swearing-in ceremony.

After all the festivities on Wednesday, it’ll then be getting down to the routine of floor sessions, committee meetings and bill hearings as well as meeting with constituents and lobbyists and others interested in the many bills that will this year go through the oldest state house in continuous legislative use (1772).

The Southern Maryland Legislative delegation typically meets early Friday morning during session in the delegation hearing room.

Contact Dick Myers at news@thebaynet.com