Del. Kathy Szeliga, a Republican representing the Eastern Baltimore and Western Harford County District 7, may be one of two new legislators representing Harford County in the Maryland General Assembly, but the freshman delegate is no stranger to Annapolis.
Szeliga, who was elected to the seat vacated by J.B. Jennings’ election to state senate, has been reconnecting with acquaintences she made while working for former state Sen. Andy Harris and even shares an office with an old friend – in the very same suite where she worked as a legislative staffer eight years ago.
In the following email dispatch, Szeliga describes the adjustment to life back in Annapolis and shares details of her first weeks in office:
“I am fortunate to be sharing an office with Delegate Sue Aumann, Republican from Baltimore County, district 42. Sue and I have been friends for a number of years. It is oddly familiar to be assigned to Lowe House Office Building suite 303 with Delegate Aumann as it is the very office where I was a staffer from 2003-2004! I worked for two legislative sessions for Delegate John Trueschler of district 42 in the very office where I now serve as Delegate Szeliga! Sue Aumann was in that office suite during those two years and that is when we developed a friendship.
Additionally, Delegate Aumann has been a member of the Appropriations Committee during her entire eight years of service in the House. I was assigned to Appropriations and will have Sue Aumann’s help and mentoring in the office and in committee. Delegate Sue Aumann is a very bright and well respected member of the legislature and the Appropriations Committee. Additionally, I worked for Senator Andy Harris in the Md Senate for six years and developed great relationships with many of the current delegates and senators. Delegate Tony O’Donnell, Republican House Leader, is a friend I’ve known for many years and I look forward to Tony’s advice and help learning the ropes in Annapolis as well as Delegate Aumann an others.
The first piece of legislation I will introduce is a bill requiring the State Department of Assessments and Taxation to allow a person to record appeal hearings. I am working on this with Senator Barry Glassman. We both met with LeRoy Whitely in December where Mr. Whitely said that he was denied the right to audio record his appeal hearing. Government transparency and citizens’ rights are important issues to me. You can find Senator Glassman’s bill here. My bill will be exactly the same – a crossfile of SB 69. I will be dropping this bill on Monday.
In preparation for my new responsibilities, in December I participated in a three day bus tour of the state with many of the other freshman legislators. It was very interesting and informative. We visited the prison in Hagerstown, UMCP, UMUC, The Port of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore City Hall, UM Shock Trauma and other locations. We were introduced to many of the Maryland department secretaries and they briefed us on issues that are effecting our constituents and Maryland in general.
Freshman legislators also participated in a two day orientation in Annapolis right after Thanksgiving. This was also very helpful as we met the staff in the House of Delegates and Senate as well as the Department of Legislative Services staff. There were briefings on the budget, ethics, the legislative process, tours of the buildings and general knowledge information. That was helpful as well.
As a former staffer in the Maryland General Assembly, I am fortunate enough to have an insiders understanding of how things get done in Annapolis. The orientation, bus tour, and experience as a staffer have really given me an excellent foundation to be an effective legislator. I’ve been anxious to roll my sleeves up and get to work!”