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Government & Politics

Political notes: Maryland’s newest senator, plus an environmental confab on the Eastern Shore

Republican Christian Miele was sworn in to serve seven days in the state Senate on Thursday. Campaign photo.

Say hello to Maryland’s newest state senator — who will likely be one of the shortest-serving senators in history.

With zero fanfare or publicity, former state Del. Christian Miele (R) was sworn in by Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) Thursday morning to represent Harford County’s 34th District until noon on Wednesday, when the new Senate term convenes.

Miele replaces former Sen. Robert Cassilly (R), who was elected Harford County executive in November and started that job in early December, relinquishing his Senate seat.

Footage of the swearing in, lasting less than three minutes, was posted to the General Assembly’s YouTube page on Thursday afternoon and was first reported on Twitter by Bryan Sears, the State House reporter for The Daily Record. The Senate did not publicize the swearing in ahead of time. The office of Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who appointed Miele to fill the vacancy, did not announce the appointment.

The recommendation to appoint Miele had to have come from the Harford County Republican Central Committee, which makes recommendations to the governor on GOP legislative vacancies in that country. But if the central committee announced a meeting to fill the state Senate vacancy, just about everyone missed it.

Miele represented a Baltimore County district in the House of Delegates from 2015 to 2019. But he lost a bid for state Senate there in 2018 and subsequently moved to Harford County, where his wife grew up. He entered the race to replace Cassilly in the Senate but narrowly lost the general election to another former delegate, Mary-Dulany James (D), who was making her third bid for the seat (she lost to Cassilly in 2014 and 2018).

Barring an unforeseen catastrophe that requires the entire legislature to assemble quickly before the next legislative term begins, the chances of Miele doing any work is a senator are nil. But it’s a nifty title for someone who’s young and politically ambitious to possess for potential future races.

For the record, two members of the House of Delegates who were elected to other offices in November also gave up their legislative seats early because they were sworn in to their new jobs before the end of the legislative term: Prince George’s County Councilmember Wanika Fisher (D) and Carroll County State’s Attorney Haven Shoemaker (R). But the central committees in those counties didn’t bother to consider replacing them for such a short period of time, and Hogan made no move to fill the vacancies. The republic has survived.

Calling Eastern Shore enviros

The Lower Eastern Shore Group of the Sierra Club, along with the Climate Justice Wing of the Maryland Legislative Coalition and ShoreRivers is holding its fourth annual environmental legislative summit virtually on Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

On Saturday, Lt. Gov.-elect Aruna Miller (D) will address the summit to outline the incoming Moore-Miller administration’s top environmental priorities.

Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club, will talk about the implementation of the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022. Several legislators will discuss some of their proposed environmental legislation for the upcoming General Assembly session, which begins next Wednesday.

On Sunday, the main topic of discussion will be environmental legislation that is of particular interest to residents of the Eastern Shore. These bills cover stormwater infrastructure, recycling, composting, well water testing, offshore wind and energy storage, community solar, providing energy efficiency for low-income wage earners, and much more.

Speakers will include House Speaker Pro Tem Sheree Sample-Hughes (D), the only Eastern Shore legislator who voted for the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2019 and the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day will close the conference on Sunday.  He will be speaking about his administration’s environmental initiatives, including running city facilities on renewable energy and the “Green Team” of business owners he has assembled who want to adopt environmentally safe business practices.