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Lawmakers handling sacrifices

January 10, 2001

Lawmakers handling sacrifices



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - Before he left home for the Maryland General Assembly's opening day Wednesday, Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, packed the rest of the week's lunches for his 10-year-old granddaughter.

As Tiffany Childers' single guardian, he organizes a great deal to leave home for 90 days of hectic lawmaking.

But McKee and other lawmakers said they realized personal sacrifice would be part of the bargain when they ran for the job.

"It's almost harder on the family than it is us," said McKee, who calls Tiffany twice a day, sometimes from the House floor.

He keeps her spelling words in his pocket organizer so he can quiz her and sometimes she practices the piano for him.

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While some lawmakers live close enough to the Statehouse to commute during the session, lawmakers who represent Washington County have a 90-mile drive and go home only on the weekends.

Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, said it was difficult Wednesday morning to leave her 89-year-old mother, who is in a nursing home. Hecht won't be able to make daily visits until the session ends April 9.

"It's tough. We have to have special, supportive families to make this work. They have to be there for you," she said.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said his four children grew up with him being gone for three months of the year. His daughter is 14 and his sons are 13, 11 and 8.

"For the most part it's been part of their lives. They've come to expect it," he said.

While he'll miss a few of his daughter's swim meets and his sons' basketball games, he'll try to make up for lost time on the weekends.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he was never home on his daughter Xanthy's birthday, Jan. 15.

"There are things you're going to miss. That's just simply a part of what the job requires. I love this job and I'm happy to make the sacrifices. My family has always understood and been supportive," he said.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, has the least family obligations among Washington County lawmakers because he is single and has no children.

That freedom has allowed him to devote more time to the job. For example, when the Republicans were mounting a challenge to the gun bill last year Mooney had time to research the rules until midnight.

Mooney said his personal sacrifice comes in earnings because he could draw a much higher salary in the private sector.

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