Annapolis Notes

February 12, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

A time out for legislators?

The Washington County delegation on Wednesday got a lesson about Maryland's new 211 system, a phone network to answer public questions of all sorts.

The 211 system in place in most states takes the burden off the 911 system, which is for emergencies, representatives from Frederick and Washington counties told the delegation.

Looking over the list of problems 211 can help address, Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, the delegation chairman, wondered if he should call.


"It says here, 'My child is out of control,'" Myers quipped. "Could I substitute the word 'delegation'?"

They can BANK on him

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, was among a small group honored at an Annapolis ceremony Thursday for its work on health care.

The Maryland MEDBANK Program recognized Donoghue for his support, particularly for sponsoring three bills that kept the program going.

Donoghue serves on the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

MEDBANK describes itself as "a non-profit organization dedicated to accessing free prescription drugs for low-income, chronically ill Marylanders, from the world's largest pharmaceutical manufacturers."

Pharmaceutical companies contribute to the program. People may receive free medicine if they meet income requirements.

MEDBANK, which was founded in 2000, also honored AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation at the ceremony.

Buena educacin

Washington County Public Schools and Hagerstown Community College were among about a dozen honorees at a legislative reception last week in Annapolis.

The Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, formerly known as the Greater Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, recognized several school systems and individuals.

Asked about the local entities that were honored, Jorge Ribas, the Chamber's president, wrote in an e-mail, "The awards were given to them because the Hispanic community in Washington County, though relatively new, is growing and both the college and the public schools have made a deliberate effort to welcome Hispanic and other immigrant students and have provided them with good educational opportunities despite the challenges that both new immigrants (parents and children) face in assimilating and that public institutions deal with in providing educational services to them."

Not your average bill, part II

In this week's chapter of "bills that some might not think to file," we have birds and dirt.

Did we say dirt? We meant soil.

Del. Anne Healey, D-Prince George's, wants Sassafras sandy loam to be the official state soil.

Other Maryland symbols, if you're curious, include: skipjack (boat), milk (drink), calico cat (cat), Chesapeake Bay retriever (dog), square dancing (folk dance) and Astrodon johnstoni (dinosaur).

Some categories are tricky. For example, Maryland has jousting, the official state sport, and lacrosse, the official state team sport.

Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks, D-Baltimore City, appears to be using this dual-symbolism line of logic in a bill he filed last week. Acknowledging that Maryland already has a state bird - the Icterus galbula, or Baltimore Oriole - Oaks wants a second state bird: the Corvus corax, commonly known as the raven.

These two new bills reaffirm complaints that we've long heard - that legislating is a dirty job and it's for the birds.

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