In Annapolis

April 11, 1999

ANNAPOLIS - Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, has a new title, according to the Senate president.

Last Wednesday, President Thomas V. Mike Miller called Mooney "sport" after an amusing exchange on the Senate floor.

Mooney had risen to show support for Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Walter M. Baker, D-Eastern Shore, who complained that the legislature is forming too many task forces and commissions.

"You're going to get a chance this afternoon to support your chairman, sport," Miller told Mooney, referring to the committee's vote on a gay rights bill, which would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Mooney has been outspoken in his criticism of the bill while Baker had promised support to Gov. Parris Glendening.

The committee has not yet voted on the bill, which means almost certain death as the 90-day legislative session winds down today.


On Thursday, the committee made what Glendening characterized as a "crippling" change to the bill by exempting people who discriminated against gay people on the basis of religious conviction.

On Friday, the committee had its annual potluck lunch instead of taking a final vote.

Glendening criticized the committee for "sitting around laughing at an ice cream party" instead of giving proper consideration to the bill.

ANNAPOLIS - Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, has been named president-elect of the women's caucus of the Maryland General Assembly.

The appointment puts Hecht in line for the presidency next year.

"I'm delighted to do it. It's an organization that I think is really important, that we make sure our growing numbers of women legislators have an impact," she said.

ANNAPOLIS - In a strange twist of parliamentary procedure, Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, helped to kill legislation that she had supported.

On Friday, the House of Delegates voted 87-42 to make it harder for young people to buy cigarettes from vending machines.

But as soon as the vote was taken, legislators who had voted for the bill began standing up to change their votes.

Snodgrass, who voted for the bill, made and won a motion for a new vote.

When the new vote was taken, the bill failed with a tie vote of 66-66.

Afterward, Snodgrass said she didn't regret asking for a new vote.

"It appeared to me there needed to be more discussion. This is a very difficult time of the session when everything starts to run through very quickly. Process and procedure are very important," she said.

The Republican Caucus then used the voting list to argue that some Democrats were being hypocritical by voting against restricting vending machines but who also voted to raise the cigarette tax by $1 a pack over the next two years.

No one in the Washington County Delegation fell into that category.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, changed his vote from "yes" to "no" because the restriction did not go far enough.

The legislation started as a ban on all cigarette vending machines, but it was changed to require the machines to use tokens instead of coins.

"It was a ridiculous bill," Donoghue said.

ANNAPOLIS - Some lawmakers were confused to see Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, wearing a yellow "choice" button last week at the height of the debate over a partial-birth abortion ban.

"I'm giving my residential electric customers a choice of their electric provider," McKee said with a devilish smile.

McKee, who voted for the abortion ban, is known in the Maryland General Assembly for not taking himself too seriously.

While he takes his work seriously, he said lawmakers have to have a little fun to keep themselves sane during the hectic 90-day session.

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