Sen. Allan Kittleman called it a show of “the arrogance of power” when Senate President Mike Miller ruled he was in violation of the “single subject” rule for legislation. In the end, their fellow senators supported Miller’s ruling and not Kittleman.
The confrontation came when Kittleman, a Howard County Republican, tried to amend a bill about scholarships to remove the power of each senator to award $138,000 in legislative scholarship each year. Kittleman has repeatedly tried to remove this bit of patronage by legislation, since the senators are in complete control over who receives the financial aid, with no checks on how the decisions are made.
The amendment came during discussion of SB785, a bill designed to overhaul the Community College Transfer Scholarship. The bill dealt with issues such as what institutions the scholarship could be used at, qualifications for the scholarship, and the specific amount of the award.
Kittleman had previously consulted with the attorney general’s office to determine whether the amendment was in violation of the single subject rule. He was livid over the ruling.
“If you really believe this is a violation of single subject I have a real problem with that,” Kittleman told the Senate. “You know it doesn’t. This involves scholarships. I contacted the attorney general because I knew that might come up this morning and they said no it doesn’t violate it.”
Scholarships would be awarded by commission
Under Kittleman’s amendment, the money for the scholarships would no longer be awarded by the senators. Instead, the funds would be distributed by the Office of Student Financial Assistance at the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
After a few minutes of debate over the amendment, however, Miller declared it was, in fact, in violation of the single subject rule.
“It’s a completely different subject from what’s in this bill,” Miller said. “Rule 45 says that ‘every law enacted by the General Assembly shall embrace but one subject. An amendment on a subject different from that under consideration may not be offered.’”
Kittleman appealed the decision of the chair — an unusual move in either the Senate or the House where the presiding officers have a wide range of discretion.
Kittleman argued that both the amendment and the original bill dealt with the subject of scholarships. In the end, however, only four other senators suported Kittleman, and his appeal was voted down, 41-5.
Kittleman told reporters afterward that the other senators supported Miller because they didn’t want to take a “tough vote” on their scholarship program.
Len Lazarick contributed to this article.