This week veteran Annapolis correspondent Tom Stuckey wrote an Associated Press news analysis piece which looked at the conflicts that can arise when members of a part-time legislature pursue business interests. It's a subject worth some study by those serious about the quality of government.
Maryland's legislature is set up as a part-time affair, with lawmakers meeting for 90 days each year in Annapolis and presumably holding other jobs when they're not in session. But what happens when the two roles come into conflict?
For state Sen. Larry Young, whose colleagues found his business too closely intertwined with his official duties, the result was the first expulsion from the senate in more than 200 years. For Del. Gerald Curran, who lobbied University of Maryland officials to okay an insurance plan that benefits his business, the outcome is still uncertain.
One way to avoid such problems would be create a full-time legislature, like Pennsylvania has. With no need for outside employment, the theory goes, lawmakers wouldn't stray into questionable areas of conduct.