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Lt. Gov. Outlines Broad Policy Plans For Future

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A measure to create a framework for public-private partnerships to build roads and public buildings will be back before the Maryland General Assembly next year, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said Saturday.

Brown, a Democrat who is exploring a run for governor, gave the speech to the Maryland Association of Counties in Ocean City. Gov. Martin O’Malley typically gives the address. In an interview before the speech, Brown said he was focusing on policy, not his plans for running in 2014, when O’Malley’s second term ends.

“I will tell you that there is a lot of enthusiasm that I have encountered among Marylanders, people that I meet all across the state who would very much like me — want me — to run for governor, and, you know, I’m certainly exploring a run,” Brown said in the interview.

Brown said other states have used public-private partnerships to address their infrastructure needs, but Maryland hasn’t created the framework needed to do more.

Maryland has such a partnership at the Port of Baltimore. Brown said he would like to see Maryland support 6 percent to 10 percent of its infrastructure through the partnerships. Now, he said, the state probably is doing less than 1 percent.

“Florida, Virginia, Puerto Rico and a long list of other states and countries have successfully used public-private partnerships to address their infrastructure needs, and even in Maryland we have successfully done it at the port,” Brown said. “We’re just not equipped right now to do the kind of volume that our infrastructure needs.”

Brown touched on four broad policy goals for the future, including education, health care, modernizing infrastructure and helping businesses create jobs.

A bill to create a framework to foster public-private partnerships did not pass in this year’s regular 90-day session. It got caught up in last-minute wrangling over a budget agreement and a proposal to expand gambling — two measures that failed to pass in the regular session and were handled in separate special sessions.

Prospects for the public-private partnership bill also were complicated by a provision that was added to allow legal appeals on such projects to be heard on an expedited track before the Court of Special Appeals. The change drew heated opposition from some lawmakers who questioned why big businesses should get special access to the courts.

Brown said that won’t be included in the administration’s bill next year. He said the issue could be taken up separately on its own.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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