House rules come into play during debate on social issues

March 15, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - As the House Republican parliamentarian, Del. Richard Weldon was busy last week during two fierce debates over the rules of the House of Delegates.

Things got so crazy that Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, began answering the phone they share on the floor as "Delegate Weldon's office."

In the end, the GOP suceeded in forcing Democrats to vote on two controversial social issues that were killed in committee by trying to amend them onto other bills.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, joined local Republicans in voting in favor of a same-sex marriage ban and prohibiting undocumented immigrants from getting Maryland driver's licenses.


Both amendments were defeated on the floor, with Democrats arguing that Republicans side-stepped the rules.

Weldon, R-Frederick/Washington, pointed out that the Democrats couldn't name a specific rule that was violated.

ANNAPOLIS - The fight over PenMar Development Corp. legislation got ugly last week when one of the opponents made a veiled threat against Delegation Chairman Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

Shank was not there when Teresa Spruill of Smithsburg, who also is a candidate for the Washington County Board of Education, said that if Shank came to her house, he "wouldn't be leaving."

When Shank broke into the hallway discussion a few minutes later, Spruill was more polite.

ANNAPOLIS - A Charles County Republican gave a disturbing glimpse into his marriage last week during a hearing on legislation to make it easier to prosecute rape cases.

Del. W. Louis Hennessy asked advocates whether he could be prosecuted for rape if he and his wife came home drunk after a party, had sex and the next morning she insisted she didn't consent.

"We're talking about a woman who's bigger than me and a lot meaner," he said.

A prosecutor answered Hennessy by saying that if his wife was too incapacitated to consent that, yes, he could be charged with rape under the proposed legislation.

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