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Annapolis notes

February 06, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Ain't too proud to Beg-a-thon

In past years, the Beg-a-thon - a nickname for the day public school officials plead in Annapolis for more school construction funding - has turned into a parade of delegations, as state lawmakers and other activists join in.

This year, Gov. Martin O'Malley called for a streamlined process, sticking just to school officials.

But Comptroller Peter Franchot, who serves on the Board of Public Works with O'Malley, sent his own instructions, inviting, once again, virtually anyone who wanted to speak.

The conflicting invitations left lawmakers puzzled. On the House floor, the minority leader publicly asked the speaker for guidance.

In the end, O'Malley's approach won out, for the most part. Delegates and senators stayed away in droves.

Except one - Del. John P. Donoghue, who sat with Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan as she awaited her presentation before the Board of Public Works.

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As Morgan introduced the handful of local school officials with her, she quipped, "And I think Delegate Donoghue crashed the party."

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown smiled and referred to Donoghue as the "only delegate."

Donoghue stood up. "I didn't crash the party," he said. "I'm here to thank the governor for his bold initiatives during the special session ..."

He was referring to a series of tax increases aimed at closing a large budget deficit. Without them, Donoghue and O'Malley have said, painful cuts would have been necessary.

"John, thank you for your leadership," O'Malley replied.

One observer who saw hours of the school presentations said Donoghue probably was the only delegate or senator to appear.

The 'humane' lobbyist?

Tensions rose a bit Wednesday when lobbyist Bruce Bereano urged Washington County's delegation to back away from a bill to impose a new layer of legal standards on electronic tip jars.

But there was a moment of levity when Bereano described interested bystanders as "animal groups."

Come again?

"The animal groups - Moose, Lions, Elks, what have you," Bereano said. "I love 'em all."

Walk it off

Deep Throat urged Bob Woodward to "follow the money" as he investigated Watergate.

Savory Sam, The Herald-Mail's restaurant reviewer, has told Annapolis Notes to "follow the calories."

Follow along:

On Jan. 24, a bill filed by Del. D. Page Elmore, R-Somerset/Wicomico, was introduced in the House, with a slew of co-sponsors, to designate Smith Island cake as the state dessert.

The Senate version of the bill, introduced the next day, also had many co-sponsors - including one Sen. Verna L. Jones, D-Baltimore City.

Then, on Jan. 31, a bill on another state symbol was introduced. Jones asked that walking be considered the state exercise.

A little legislative guilt, perhaps, Sen. Jones?

We're surprised Republicans didn't rise and proclaim the clear gorging/spending metaphor.

Not your average bill, part IV

Known for calling 'em as they see 'em, the Annapolis press corps has labeled Senate Bill 363 the "bong tax."

And we're not talking about the sound a gong makes.

Sen. C. Anthony Muse, D-Prince George's, wants to add a $20 tax to each "item of tobacco paraphernalia" (his bill's words), including each bong (reporters' words).

The bill is scheduled to come before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Feb. 13. We expect one totally mellow hearing, dude.

Perhaps the National Munchies Federation will send a lobbyist.

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