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Legislators gather for Maryland General Assembly session

January 08, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | Kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — Delegates and senators hustled in and out of their offices near the Maryland State House. Maintenance workers scurried around. Television news crews set up their cameras.

Prepping was in full swing Tuesday for the Maryland General Assembly 90-day session, which begins at noon Wednesday.

“We live in our own world. And then you come here and find out what other legislators are thinking about,” said Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, and the chairman of the county’s delegation at the assembly.

Serafini attended a briefing of the state Republican caucus Tuesday, and said he looked forward to examining any gun-related bills.

“We have been hearing about these issues from afar. Being here puts everything in sharper focus,” he said.

Serafini said the legislators seemed upbeat now. But that might change.

“You start every term undefeated. But the mood will change, especially when it comes to the debate around guns,” he said. “If there is gun legislation, it has to be measured … and not emotional.”

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Sen. Christopher Shank, R-Washington, said the day before the session was a good time to reconnect with legislators.

“It is about putting your brain in the right place. It is also a good time to talk to senators about cross-filing some bills,” Shank said.

The senator said he looked forward to hearing about the priorities from Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“Right now we haven’t heard a whole lot,” Shank said.

Shank said he also wanted to read a recently released report by a task force created during last year’s session on access of individuals with mental illnesses to firearms.

“The last thing tonight would be to unpack all my stuff,” he said.

Del. Michael Hough, R-Frederick/Washington, said he too was looking forward to talking to other legislators to cross-file some bills.

“I also went out and picked a house to rent,” said Hough, whose family will be staying with him during the session.

It wasn’t only the politicians and their aides who were readying for the beginning of the session Tuesday.

Sue Kopen Katcef, broadcast bureau director for the Capital News Service from the University of Maryland, and Rafael Lorente, Annapolis Bureau Director for the Capital News Service, led a team of student journalists on a walking tour Tuesday, explaining to them the workings of the Maryland General Assembly.

Katcef, who first covered the assembly as a radio reporter in the early 1980s, said she liked watching the legislative process unfold.

“It is like watching a game of chess. But the more things change, the more they remain the same,” Katcef said.

The students also learn more about the democratic process, she said.

“They also learn that some things are not quite what they seem … and how the assembly has to somehow get everything done within 90 days,” she said.

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