Annapolis notes

February 13, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

Still trying to get their House in order

In the ongoing dysfunction generated by the construction of the new House office building, several Washington County delegates have been displaced. And the Republican leadership, originally promised office space in the former Judiciary suite, is still waiting for permanent digs. The Democratic leadership, meanwhile, has taken over the Judiciary suite.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, has been moved into the cavernous former Baltimore County Delegation meeting room until, as assistant minority leader, he can move with the rest of the Republican leaders. Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, has moved into Shank's old office.

And Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, and the chief deputy majority whip, has moved into a new office with the rest of the Democratic leadership - in the former Judiciary suite.

Chronic growing pains

The musical offices have been only one difficulty the House transition has created. The new legislative committee meeting rooms, which promised to be larger in order to accommodate more of the public attending bill hearings, actually hold fewer public seats. The bulk of the new space lies empty in the center of the room, with committee members' desks arranged around it. So much empty space separates the committee from the public that one witness last week looked across the room at Chairman Sheila Hixson and declared, "My, you're a long way away, Madame Chairman."


There are fewer seats reserved for the media, and they're positioned near the doors, where the constant comings and goings make listening to the discussion a challenge at best.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch promised last week the lack of accommodation for the media would be remedied soon.

That should be of great relief to legislators who don't want to be misquoted - particularly in an election year.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich, meanwhile, was at pains recently to remind reporters that he voted against allocating the money for the new building.

Strength in numbers

Del. George Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany, made sure he had all his documents in order last week when he appeared before the House Environmental Matters Committee to argue for his bill to alter the membership for the Tri-County Council for Western Maryland. Included in the packet to committee members was a letter from the Garrett County Delegation endorsing the bill.

That delegation consists of Edwards and Sen. John Hafer, R-Washington/Allegany/Garrett.

"I always smile when I see the Garrett County Delegation has met and agreed on something," Committee Chairman Maggie McIntosh said.

It's the "local" vision thing

At the conclusion of last week's Washington County Delegation meeting, Sen. John Hafer, R-Washington/Allegany/Garrett, observed that Washington County has too many "things."

The other legislators looked puzzled.


Hafer explained that by "things," he was referring to the number of local bills delegation members were asked to consider.

"Washington County has more things than Garrett and Allegany put together," he said.

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