Annapolis Notes

March 26, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Senators spar over nepotism

Maryland state Senators faced off this month in a prickly battle over scholarship nepotism.

The Legislative Scholarships Integrity Act of 2007 set familial limits for General Assembly members in giving out millions of dollars in scholarships.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bryan W. Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, would prohibit legislators from giving scholarships to spouses, parents and in-laws.

And grandparents and grand- children.

And "step" everything.

Also ineligible: spouses, children, etc. - all of the above - of delegates in their districts.

"There are people" - senators - "who don't even get along with their delegates," Sen. Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore County, protested one day on the Senate floor.


"This is like a giant ball of twine. You start pulling on it ...," Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Caroline/Cecil/Kent/Queen Anne's, said during another session.

Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County, suggested that intent should rule; accidental scholarship awards to relatives shouldn't be punished.

"If you don't knowingly know that, you haven't broken the law," he said.

Which might make one wonder: If Richard Nixon had given his stepgrandniece-in-law a Maryland scholarship, would Howard H. Baker Jr., the former U.S. senator, have asked, "What did the president knowingly know and when did he knowingly know it?"

A floor farewell

Rodney M. Shoop received, as they say, a "warm Senate welcome" Wednesday in Annapolis in honor of his 12 years as Washington County's administrator.

With other county officials watching from the gallery, Shoop was recognized on the Senate floor and given a resolution signed by Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Shoop retired this year. He and his wife, Judy - who sat with him in the Senate - plan to spend time at their South Carolina condominium.

Not your average bill, Part VII

When sections, subsections, titles and subtitles start stacking up in bills, it's tough to follow along.

Who's being limited or empowered? What can I do or not do?

And who has time to read all that? Certainly not the busy lawmaker with constituents and lobbyists to meet.

There are about 1,400 bills just in the House of Delegates this year.

Which is why Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr., R-Caroline/Cecil/Kent/Queen Anne's, deserves a special salute for brevity. One bill he sponsored, which we quote in its entirety, says:

"A driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a parking lot."

Eighteen words. Point made.

Calvin Coolidge would be pleased.

Alas, the House Environmental Matters Committee was not so impressed last month, doing its best SUV imitation and plowing - vroom, vroom - right over his pedestrian bill.

Perhaps the committee would have been swayed if Joni Mitchell testified about the dangers of paving paradise.

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