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When the Maryland General Assembly convened this week, the Republican leadership in both branches was different from last year. The new GOP heads in both the House and Senate outlined their goals for this year's session.
For Anne Arundel County Del. Nic Kipke, being a leader in Annapolis is new. He takes over as the minority leader in the House this year and even though Republicans are in the distinct minority in his chamber, he isn't backing away from setting big goals.
"Republicans in the House of Delegates are going to be working with a laser-like focus to lower taxes in Maryland," Kipke says. "Right now, Maryland's tax climate is out of whack. It's unfair. Our surrounding states, even states that are led by Democrats, have a much better tax climate than Maryland."
Kipke says that means bills attempting to cut corporate and income taxes in Maryland, as well as eliminate the so-called "rain tax," a new levy charged to pay to clean up stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.
Since Republicans can't get those passed on party lines alone, they'll need to get many Democratic votes. That is highly unlikely and no one knows that better than Sen. David Brinkley of Frederick County, who's starting his second turn as the GOP leader in that chamber this year. He says Republicans must pick and choose the battles they'll fight hardest on.
"Absent that being successful, quite honestly allowing for challengers during the election to be able to hold people's feet to the fire," Brinkley says. "The voters of Maryland will get the representation they deserve. We just hope that they have the courage to stand up sometimes when they find someone that has made some poor choices or made some bad votes."
Brinkley previously served as Senate minority leader in 2007 and 2008.