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Ceremonial day to open legislature

January 10, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - For P.J. Donoghue, as a young boy, opening day of the Maryland General Assembly mainly meant good free food.

Now 19, he's more in tune with the meaning and importance of the pomp and circumstance.

"The older you get, the more you know," said Donoghue, who will be at the State House today to watch his father, John, begin his 17th year as a delegate.

"It's a ceremonial day," said Donoghue, the lone Democrat in Washington County's delegation. "We formalize that we are in session."

Donoghue said he'll have a role in today's proceedings: He'll close the nomination for speaker of the house.

Today is the beginning of the General Assembly's 423rd session. Lawmakers will be sworn in and will choose the House speaker and Senate president.

Over the next 90 days, legislators will hammer out a budget and take up a variety of issues.

Members of Washington County's delegation have said they expect the budget to be a main focus this year, along with education, public safety and health care.

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But first comes the glow of opening day.

Four years ago, after an upset win over House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. brought about 25 people to watch him officially become a state representative.

Not everyone made it inside the crowded gallery to see, but Myers made sure his mother and father got in.

This year, his wife is sick at home and no one from his family will be there when he's sworn in. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, said he doesn't mind; that leaves more room for incoming delegates' families and friends.

John Donoghue said his 20-year-old daughter, Erin, will be with him, too. Both Erin and P.J. attend Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania.

P.J. Donoghue also was in Annapolis on Tuesday, helping his father move into a new suite in the Lowe House Office Building.

Up and down the hallways, delegates and their staffs were either getting acclimated to new offices or preparing to move out of old ones, even with the session about to start.

Myers is moving one door down, into a suite he'll share with Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

Setting up his new office on the third floor, Donoghue, in jeans and a casual shirt, smiled and said he was pleased with his new location - close to the elevator and close to the parking garage.

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