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On opening day in Annapolis, lawmakers get back into routine

January 10, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - The first day of the 2008 Maryland General Assembly regular session included a tribute to a delegate who died suddenly, a familiar protest vote in the Senate and otherwise routine fanfare.

Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr., R-Frederick/Washington, said "the sheer weight of the history" of the legislature, which is convening for the 425th time, makes the opening day meaningful.

Aside from that, "it's very ceremonial and a little bit of a waste of time," he said.

After the floor session, delegates scatter to parties and receptions, Weldon said, but "I'm jumping in my car and going back to Brunswick" to work.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, agreed that the opening of the 90-day session usually is "just a day to greet one another."

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This time, he said, he was moved by a memorial ceremony for Del. Jane Lawton, who collapsed and died in November, about a week after the special session ended.

Lawton, a Democrat, represented Montgomery County in the House for two years. Speakers praised her charm and concern for the environment.

"Her spirit and civility is certainly something that we could use more of in the House of Delegates," Shank said afterward.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, said he didn't agree with Lawton on some issues, but called her "a very fair person to talk to."

Other parts of the House session were routine, include the re-election of Del. Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, as speaker. In seconding the nomination, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said Busch is known for being fair, firm and passionate.

Federal and state officials attended.

Gov. Martin O'Malley addressed both the House and the Senate.

In the Senate, the annual nomination to keep Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert/Prince George's, as president was once again met with a small pocket of opposition.

Miller's nomination was approved 43-3.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, voted no, as he has done three times before. In past years, he also has voted in favor of Miller three times and has abstained three times.

Mooney said Wednesday that Miller presided in the Senate over the largest tax increase in Maryland's history.

"It's symbolic, I guess," he said of his vote. "I don't think it has any deep meaning ... I'm going to vote my own voice for Washington County."

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