A delegation of six elected officials from Mongolia arrived i Annapolis last week to observe Maryland lawmakers as they conducted their daily routine of hearings and floor sessions. They first visited the House and later popped in to watch the Senate.
As is the polite custom of the Senate, the representatives of the new Mongolian democracy were formally introduced to the lawmakers, who greeted them with applause.
Always a quick one with a historical tidbit, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. announced to the Senate and its visitors that Maryland and Mongolia are alike in at least one respect.
"We have much in common," said Miller. "They, in their history, had someone named Genghis Khan. We have someone very similar."
Afterward, Miller, who has had his battles with the governor and other power figures in Annapolis, would not say who he had in mind when he mentioned the 12th century Mongol conqueror.
A rose by any other name
At first glance, it's hard to tell exactly what Del. George W. Owings 3rd had in mind last week when he introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from discriminating against people because of their "engagement in any lawful activity off the work premises during nonworking hours."
But if you examine the bill closer, you might smell smoke.
The bill resembles legislation the Southern Maryland Democrat introduced in 1989 to prohibit employers from discriminating against people who smoke off the job. Despite support from the tobacco industry, the so-called smokers' rights bill died in the Senate in the waning days of the 1989 legislative session.
Owings, a cigarette smoker himself, went to great lengths to explain that his 1991 bill seeks to forbid discrimination against people who take part in a variety of after-work activities, such as sky-diving, for example, or gambling trips to Atlantic City.
But yes, he admitted, the bill also would protect smokers.
Fun with the guv
After the Nov. 6 general election, an Annapolis merchant decided to poke fun at Gov. William Donald Schaefer's unhappiness with his vote tally.
Dick Sossi unveiled a T-shirt bearing a caricature of Schaefer with a crown that says "59.6 %" -- Schaefer's vote percentage -- and a printed warning: "As for the rest of you, I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE."
It seems that the merchant's joking suggestion that Schaefer would find out where his opponents live came true for an Anne Arundel County man named Walter. (He requested that his last name be omitted).
Walter was quoted in a Sun election article -- incorrectly, he says -- as saying about Schaefer: "I'd like to get the bum out, though I'm sure he'll win."
Schaefer fired off a letter to the man that said, "Read your complimentary quote in the Perspective Section of the local rag -- to wit -- the Sun dated Nov. 11, 1990. If I'm a bum wonder what you are!! Your neighbors are not too high on you either. You of all people, should call someone a 'bum.' But then, 'takes one to know one -- an old saying so true. [Signed] Don Schaefer"
The flabbergasted man sent two letters to Schaefer asking if he, indeed, penned those remarks. So far, no reply.
The revolving door
The revolving State House door is still spinning. William H. Cox Jr., a former delegate from Harford County who lost his re-election race last year, has returned as a part-time lobbyist. As a legislator, Cox was always a avid booster of the state racing industry. Now, he is lobbying for a group that wants to bring year-round simulcast gambling to the Fair Hill steeplechase complex in Cecil County.
Frank J. Komenda, a Prince George's County senator who also failed to win re-election last year, has returned to lobby with Dennis C. McCoy, himself a retired state delegate. Another senator who lost last year, Edward J. Kasemeyer, is working the State House as a lobbyist for the Montgomery County government.
And former Prince George's Del. Dennis C. Donaldson is back, serving as a liaison between state legislators and the Department of Transportation.