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Parent/delegate driven for change

March 21, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland teens have been paying attention to a series of proposals the General Assembly is considering to tighten restrictions on teen drivers. The restrictions, which range from setting longer provisional driving periods to higher penalties for traffic violations, have come in response to a rash of accidents - and fatalities - involving young drivers.

During a floor debate last week on legislation to prevent teens from transporting other minors within five months of obtaining their licenses, Del. Susan W. Krebs, R-Howard, sought a little support.

"As the parent of a child who will be driving next year, I'd appreciate your help so I don't have to be the bad guy next year," she pleaded, when she refuses to let her teen drive with other youths.

If they supported the bill, she said, "I can say it's the law in the state of Maryland."

'Prince of Darkness' haunts the governor


ANNAPOLIS - The timing of the announcement from U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., that he would not seek re-election in 2006 was a huge favor to Gov. Robert Ehrlich, coming as it did on the day the Ehrlich Administration was forced to release thousands of e-mails and other documents pertaining to former Ehrlich aide Joseph Steffen.

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Steffen, alleged to have targeted Democratic state employees for firing, referred to himself as "the Prince of Darkness" and was fired himself after confessing to spreading Internet rumors about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

For a while last week, Sarbanes' announcement shifted the parlor game in Annapolis from speculation about how deeply Ehrlich might have been involved in the Steffen scandal to speculation about who might run for Sarbanes' Senate seat - and, in turn, who might run for the offices potential Senate candidates would be vacating.

The governor responded this week to Democrats' charges that his administration had systematically removed Democratic state employees with a letter to legislative leaders saying his administration had actually removed fewer workers from the opposing party than previous Democratic administrations had.

Party is such sweet sorrow in Annapolis


ANNAPOLIS - Partisan resentments heated up last week after Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller apparently ordered that confirmation of a list of Gov. Robert Ehrlich's nominees for various state boards and commissions be held up.

While Executive Nominations Committee member Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he didn't know why Miller held up the confirmations, Miller made no secret that he took umbrage at Ehrlich's hesitance to appoint Democratic picks to the state Elections Board.

At the same time, there's been a campaign among Democrats to revise the selection process for Elections Board members to take much of the appointment privileges away from the governor.

But the Republicans haven't necessarily been careful to make sure all their players are on the team. When a handful of them called a hasty news conference to denounce budget modifications in the House Appropriations Committee that seemed to target Republican positions, they did so apparently without telling the rest of their colleagues - including the entire Washington County Delegation, who knew nothing about the news conference.

In gambling, the House always wins


ANNAPOLIS - When the Senate last week approved a severely altered version of a House bill to legalize slot machine gambling, House Speaker Michael E. Busch signaled its death knell when the bill returns to the House for final approval.

Asked by a Maryland Public Television reporter why he didn't simply appoint a conference committee of legislators to resolve the differences and "work this thing out," Busch, a slots opponent, replied, "because I got elected Speaker and you didn't."

Singin' in the reign


ANNAPOLIS - Singer of the House Michael E. Busch continued his series of impromptu performances Thursday with a rambling early morning rendition of the Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon." But by Thursday afternoon he'd changed his tune.

During questioning from reports that centered on slots legislation and accusations that House members were targeting Republicans in the budget, Busch rewrote the lyrics to the title song from a well-known

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