Annapolis Notes - Jan. 22

January 22, 2012
  • The office of Sen. Christopher B. Shank, shown Wednesday, was among those damaged by water after a pipe broke in a Senate office building on Jan. 16.
By Andrew Schotz/Staff Writer

Adding to the bill

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, wants to expand a proposed amendment to Washington County’s gaming law.

On Wednesday, Washington County’s delegation discussed a draft bill that would add new financial reporting requirements for the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

The association would have to submit financial reports and proposed budgets to the county, and get the county commissioners’ approval before distributing money to its member fire and rescue companies.

Lawmakers held off Wednesday on voting whether to submit the bill because the association hadn’t reviewed the proposal.

Myers said Thursday that he’ll propose setting a dollar limit on the association’s holdings, rather than letting the association accumulate a large fund balance.

Relocating, again

Like singer James Taylor, Sen. Christopher B. Shank has seen fire and he’s seen rain, sort of.

In 2008, when Shank was a delegate, his office was on a Boonsboro block heavily damaged by a fire.

Last week, water was the culprit. A pipe in a Senate building in Annapolis broke Jan. 16, flooding Shank and some other senators out of their offices.

Amber Mulcare, a legislative aide for Shank, said she was working in the fourth-floor office when she noticed water flowing in.

“It just kept coming,” she said.

She immediately moved office computers to a safe place.

Shank and his staff were temporarily in a small conference room for a few days, but were back in the office on Thursday.

What’s the next calamity?

“The only one I haven’t gotten is pestilence,” Shank joked.

Shalom, Hagerstown

When Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, addressed the Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday, Hagerstown was prominent in his remarks.

Talking about bonds between Maryland and Israel, Oren mentioned 19th-century delegate Thomas Kennedy of Hagerstown and his fight for Jews’ rights.

The Maryland Manual says that in 1818, Kennedy was on a committee that considered removing the “political disability of Jews.”

A bill to “extend to the sect of people professing the Jewish religion the same rights and privileges that are enjoyed by Christians” made it out of committee, but was defeated. Kennedy reintroduced it the next year and it was defeated again.

Despite “virulent attacks” for his stance and losing in the election of 1823, Kennedy pledged to keep fighting “until my last drop of blood,” the Maryland Manual says.

When Kennedy was re-elected as an independent in 1825, public opinion had shifted in favor of the bill and it became law in 1826.

“A few months later, two Jews were elected to the Baltimore City Council,” the Maryland Manual says.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, said an annual award named after Kennedy honors a delegate who demonstrates courage.

— Andrew Schotz

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