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Joke press release suggests opponent for House speaker

April 19, 2004|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS ? A prankster in the Washington County Delegation sent out a fake press release last week announcing that Del. Kevin Kelly would be challenging Michael E. Busch for the position of House speaker.

Even though both Busch and Kelly call themselves Democrats, Kelly, of Allegany County, has closely aligned himself with Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich.

So it was almost believable that Kelly would be stepping in to lead the 141 members of the House of Delegates back in a more conservative direction.

Using more colorful language than a family newspaper can print, the notice said Kelly is the only one with the nerve to challenge Busch.

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Corey Stottlemyer, assistant to Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Allegany/Washington, was responsible for the joke, Kelly said.

But Kelly clearly enjoyed the idea of ousting the man who pushed a $670 billion tax package as the state's fiscal solution.

"What happened down there was absolutely, positively simple. This is nothing more than hard-nosed, partisan politics designed to undermine Bob Ehrlich," Kelly said.

Although Kelly's views are in the minority in his own party, he's not the only conservative Democrat complaining about Busch.

"We're totally frustrated because there's nothing we can do about it," he said.

Stottlemyer also faxed the notice to Busch "from future speaker Kevin Kelly."

Bills die in waning minutes of session


ANNAPOLIS ? Gay rights supporters and domestic violence victims were the losers in an ideological battle waged in the waning hours of the Maryland General Assembly's 2004 session last week.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, and other Senate Republicans were employing delay tactics to block legislation that would apply the state's hate crime law to homosexual victims.

In retaliation, the bill's sponsor in the House tried the same thing with Mooney's bill to set up an address confidentiality program for domestic violence victims.

Under the proposed program, the state would handle victims' mail so their abuser could not track them down through the U.S. Post Office.

Both bills died when time ran out on the 90-day session at midnight last Monday.

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