ANNAPOLIS, MD - The 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly kicked off Wednesday afternoon in Annapolis.
Lawmakers met for the first time inside the State House. Some of the major topics included everything from banning synthetic marijuana to gun control after the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
Delegate Galen Clagett, a gun owner, sent a letter to the Maryland Delegation to show his support for gun control.
"What my letter basically said was we need to reinstate the ban on assault weapons. We need to do away with the right to carry. We need to do better background investigations before we issue a permit, and also with the ban, we should ban the cannisters with multiple shells," says Clagett, (D) - Frederick County.
Governor Martin O'Malley believes he has close to enough votes to repeal the death penalty. The governor is also expected to bring up raising the gas tax.
Right now the gas tax is 23.5 cents a gallon, and hasn't been increased since 1992.
Many Western Maryland lawmakers say they don't like the idea.
"I think that's a disaster just waiting to happen. They've talked about the gas tax for two terms in a row, and now they're going to try and bring it back this term," says Del. Neil Parrott (R) - Washington County. "They're talking about a sales tax on top of the gas tax we already pay. Our economy is already hit hard. We're struggling to make it through this recession."
Governor O'Malley has already said he plans to include $336 million in the proposed budget for school construction and upgrades. He hasn't yet said how much money will go to Western Maryland, but he should begin ironing out those details within the next few weeks.
"We still have a structural deficit of about $200 million, down from two billion when we started three years ago. We made a lot of progress. Hopefully we can wipe it totally out," says Sen. George Edwards, (R) - Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties.
Other lawmakers believe the governor will bring another topic during the session.
"Some of the major issues that the governor has indicated are his top priorities are going to be transportation and how we deal with the funding and infrastructure here in the State of Maryland," says Del. Kelly Schulz, (R) - Frederick County.
The Western Maryland Delegation will meet in three weeks, while the Washington County Delegation is expected to meet in two weeks.
The Frederick County Delegation will meet this Friday, and begin the process of weeding through 13 bills.