Notes from Annapolis

January 13, 1997

ANNAPOLIS - Del. D. Bruce Poole, a veteran of 10 General Assembly sessions, said he thought the mood was a bit subdued when the legislature began it's 1997 session last week

For all the talk about cutting taxes and working together from legislative leaders, Poole said there was a "cautious" atmosphere because anything can happen in the debate ahead.

"I think what it shows in everybody's mind is there is a lot up in the air," the Washington County Democrat said.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said he hoped the tax discussion will be one of compromise before controversy.

"I guess everybody's got to work real hard at controlling their tempers and, at the same time, represent their constituents," Donoghue said.


House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. introduced a new addition to the House chamber Thursday morning - a large portrait of a former House speaker that now hangs next to the speaker's podium.

Taylor, an Allegany County Democrat, asked the members if they knew who the subject of the portrait was, but it only prompted some murmurs from the delegates.

After several seconds, Taylor told the members that the painting was of none other than former Gov. Marvin Mandel, a former speaker of the House who resigned as governor after being convicted of mail fraud and racketeering charges. The charges were later overturned on appeal.

The only response from the delegates was some giggles.

Legislators often "prefile" bills before the session begins, a practice that allows them to have legislation introduced the first day of the session. Several legislators, including local representatives Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, and Del. J. Anita Stup, R-Frederick/Washington, prefiled bills, but most did not.

Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, noting the hundreds of new laws that come out of the General Assembly each year, said the important thing isn't always just getting bills passed but often keeping some legislation from getting passed.

"I almost think sometimes that if you introduce a new law, you've got to knock another old one off the books," McKee said.

It will be at least another week before the Washington County delegation in the General Assembly submits its own legislation. But there are already some bills of interest filed by local legislators, including:

  • Senate Bill 14, sponsored by Munson. The bill would require the state to assess enforcement charges in deadbeat parent cases against the parent not paying support. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, where a hearing will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m.
  • S.B. 37, sponsored by Munson and Sen. C. Edward Middlebrooks, R-Anne Arundel. The bill would prohibit parents to get out of paying child support by going to jail. The bill has been assigned to the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where a hearing will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m.
  • S.B. 52, sponsored by Munson. The bill would make it a crime to kill, taunt or interfere with a police dog or police horse. The bill has been assigned to the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where a hearing will be held Thursday at 2 p.m.
  • S.B. 121. The bill would allow judges to dismiss "frivolous or malicious" lawsuits filed by prison inmates. The bill has not been assigned to a committee. The bill has been assigned to the Judicial Proceedings Committee. No hear date has been set.
  • House Bill 45. sponsored by Stup and Del George Owings, D-Calvert/Anne Arundel. The bill would impose against parents and other adults who give and sell tobacco products to minors the same fines currently assessed against stores that sell tobacco to minors. The bill has been assigned to the Environmental Matters Committee. No hearing date has been set.

For more information about these bills and other legislative action, go online to for the General Assembly's site on the World Wide Web.

-- By Guy Fletcher

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