Annapolis notes

April 04, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

Reading is fundamental

ANNAPOLIS - The debate over the fate of the state's Office of Children, Youth and Family led House Minority Whip Anthony O'Donnell to lead the charge against Democrats who he said "gutted" proposed legislation from Gov. Robert Ehrlich to replace the current office with a Cabinet-level office. The Democrats' plan, approved by the House last week, cuts needed offices and personnel, Republicans said.

Before the vote, O'Donnell offered an amendment to the bill that would remove the administration from sponsoring it, saying there had been so many changes that "the administration no longer supports it."

But Del. Sheila Hixson, chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee, replied that such changes to legislation are hardly unusual.

"Is this the first time he's ever seen that happen in the General Assembly?" she asked. "Apparently, he hasn't been reading the bills very closely."

Time for the fix-it man

ANNAPOLIS - Del. LeRoy Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, said last week's floor fights between Democrats and Republicans over the state Elections Board and the Office of Children, Youth and Families helped prove the merits of a quip he attributed to Del. Page Elmore, R-Somerset, who said the philosophy of the more liberal elements of the General Assembly this year was "if it ain't broke, we'll find a way to break it."

Legislative Follies lighten the mood

ANNAPOLIS - For one brief shining moment each year, partisan differences are set aside for the Legislative Follies, conducted by legislators from both sides last Wednesday at St. John's College.

Few issues were spared the follies' treatment, from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's hair color (which changed from dark to light between last year's General Assembly and this year's) to House Speaker Michael E. Busch's renowned pregnant pauses to Gov. Robert Ehrlich's difficulties over the Joseph Steffen scandal, in which the former Ehrlich aide confessed to spreading rumors about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley over the Internet.

Del. Joseph Bartlett, R-Frederick, was lampooned for famously not having gotten any bills passed during his seven years in office. The follies crew announced that this year, Bartlett got a bill approved to form a task force to study why legislators with famous last names don't get any bills passed.

Most - though not all - Western Maryland legislators escaped the follies unharmed, but the region did not.

New efforts at criminal investigations in Western Maryland failed, it was announced, because everybody had the same DNA and nobody had dental records.

Del. Terry Gilleland, R-Anne Arundel, did a dead-on impersonation of Ehrlich in a parody of his State of the State plea for a little respect, and during the follies' version of a Star Wars trilogy, Del. Eric Bromwell, D-Baltimore County, portrayed the House Speaker as Luke Buschwalker. In the final battle scene over slots, the Darth Vader character revealed himself to be Buschwalker's father. Removing his helmet, Vader turned out to be former House Speaker Casper Taylor.

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