Annapolis Notes - April 11

April 10, 2011

‘Slipping’ in the Senate

During a spirited debate Thursday on establishing collective-bargaining rights for independent home-care providers, Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, tried to limit the bill’s scope through amendments.

With his first one defeated, Shank argued for his second amendment — a tax credit to help those who don’t belong to a union, yet who still must pay a fee for the union’s collective-bargaining services.

Then, someone noticed a problem: Shank had handed out amendments for the wrong bill.

He wasn’t far off base; his amendment was for the House version of the same bill, which was coming up, not the current Senate bill.

“That’s the next bill,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said.

“My fault, Mr. President,” Shank replied. “I apologize.”

Miller: “You thought you were still in the House, son.”

Shank, laughing: “Would you like to send me back?”

Miller, chuckling: “No, you’ve been doing very well so far. You’re slipping a little bit right now, but ...”

Shank, still laughing: “Thank you, Mr. President.”

Shank’s second amendment failed, too. And Miller let him stay in the Senate.

Election board approved

On March 25, the state Senate approved a list of appointments that included the Washington County Board of Elections.

Democrats Eileen W. Wiggins and John R. Benchoff, and Republican Clyde J. Tate will return to the board.

Republican Carroll H. Earp again will be an alternate. The Democratic alternate will be Tammy E. Downin, replacing Sharon L. Washington.

Their new four-year terms start June 6.

Under a bill sponsored by Sen. Christopher B. Shank and backed by the Washington County delegation, alternates would become full board members. The House and Senate passed the bill.

The Senate also approved another six-year term on the Hagerstown Community College Board of Trustees for Carolyn W. Brooks, starting July 1.

White pages: bound for extinction?

Not everything is contentious in Annapolis.

For example, when some lawmakers proposed ending mandated delivery of telephone directories to customers, nearly every other legislator jumped on board.

A version of the bill passed the House 140-0 and the Senate 43-3. It now advances to Gov. Martin O’Malley for his signature.

Only customers who request printed phone directories would get them.

Currently, Maryland forces phone companies to publish an alphabetical directory for their customers every year.

A lot of paper goes into the effort to print phone directories, which are needed and used far less in the Internet age. An analysis with the bill says: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that in 2008 alone, print telephone directories accounted for 840,000 tons of paper waste nationally.”

Yellow pages, for business listings, aren’t affected by the bill.

Every Washington County delegation member voted in favor of the bill.

— Andrew Schotz,

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