Monday, June 01, 2009

Make it Official

Maryland officials petition to switch the state from the "south" to the "east" regional group of the Council of State Governments.
Maryland has long been associated with the Southern region of the council. Among other things, that has meant Maryland lawmakers have hobnobbed at regional conferences with their counterparts from states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

But now Maryland leaders have, in essence, decided they have more in common with legislators from places like New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont.

In a joint letter to leaders of the Council of State Governments, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) ask permission for Maryland to re-align with the Eastern region. The issue is expected to be decided this fall.

Politically, it would certainly be a better fit. Maryland is among the most reliably Democratic states in the nation. Of the four council regions, the Southern is the one most heavily populated with Republican elected officials.

In their letter, Miller and Busch cite several more substantive issues. The Eastern region includes more states with a stake in the health of the Chesapeake Bay, for example. And the Base Realignment and Closure Process "will have extensive impacts on Maryland and primarily its neighbors to the north and east."

Miller and Busch also mention that the District is a member of the Eastern region, and make the case that there are many issues affecting Maryland and the District that require "mutual cooperation." (The letter makes only a passing reference to the fact that Virginia is part of the Southern region.)

I've described Maryland (in inversion of the famous quip about DC) as the land of "southern charm and northern efficiency." Even still, we're really not south, and haven't been for awhile.


Anonymous said...

The part you're from, David, certainly isn't southern, but there are parts of Maryland that resemble the south in culture (mainly Eastern Shore and southern Maryland). On the whole, I think "Mid-Atlantic" instead of "North" or "South" is a better term for Maryland. Government agencies can't seem to make up their minds - I think in some cases the state is lumped in with Southern states (Census, Fed) and in some cases the state is lumped in with Northern states.

David Schraub said...

The joke about Maryland is that the further north you go, the further south you are. Baltimore is a far more "southern" city than D.C. is.

I think mid-atlantic is the best descriptor of MD as well, but if the choice is "east" or "south" as a whole we do have more in common even with, say, a Massachusetts than we do with Alabama.