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Lawmakers must excuse tardy bills

March 14, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

ANNAPOLIS -It's like having to tell your teacher why your homework is late, a lawmaker explained to teenaged pages in the House of Delegates.

Lawmakers filing bills after the midterm deadline in the General Assembly must explain to the full House why the bill is late. The chamber then votes on whether the bill may be introduced.

Last week, Del. Terry Gilliland, R-Anne Arundel, gave an honest explanation about why he was late filing a family law bill regarding disclosure of information in divorce cases. He had the bill the day before, he said, but he was busy attending "all those nice receptions" thrown for legislators during the session.

"That's more information than we really needed to know," replied House Speaker Michael E. Busch.

The House voted to let Gilliland introduce his bill anyway, by a score of 132-1.

The dissenting vote came from Del. Curt Anderson, D-Baltimore City.

How many was that?


ANNAPOLIS - Katie McHugh, a representative of the Maryland State Builders Association, left a meeting of the Washington County Delegation to the General Assembly last week thinking she failed in her effort to convince the legislators to set a cap on the building excise tax in large residential developments.

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An amendment to the pending excise tax bill that would require developers to pay up to $26,000 per unit in developments with more than 25, needed votes from five of the legislators to be approved.

Delegation Chairman Christopher B. Shank counted the votes and declared the amendment failed. He moved on to other business.

But a moment later he stopped the meeting, tallied the votes again and declared the amendment passed.

It seems the chairman forgot to count his own vote.

"You have to understand," chimed in Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, "our chairman was a history major, not a math major."

Check out the fine print


ANNAPOLIS - "It's the little things in life that drive people crazy," Sen. George Della, D-Baltimore City, told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last week.

Della sponsored a bill to make Baltimore redesign its parking tickets so citizens actually can read them. He passed around copies of a parking ticket and directed committee members to look at the tiny print on the ticket's backside to make his point.

"Read the back of this parking ticket - if you can," he said. The part in the fine print, he said, is the explanation of citizens' rights regarding the citation.

"You're a room of real smart people," he said. "Make the city clarify this for the public."

'Friends' in high places


ANNAPOLIS - As members of the Washington County Delegation made their way to the front of the House chamber Thursday to honor Deputy 1st Class Dave Norford for a heroic rescue, House Speaker Michael E. Busch wrapped an arm around the shoulder of Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, whose defeat of former House Speaker Casper Taylor in 2002 opened the seat for Busch.

"Can I sit in your chair?" Myers whispered.

"You might as well, you helped me get here," Busch replied.

That's Myers' story anyway, and he's sticking to it.

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