The biggest lobbyists in Annapolis could take some lessons )) from 10-year-old Sylvana Christopher and her friends.
The Germantown Elementary School fifth-grader was one of about a dozen students whose testimony last week captivated a committee of the House of Delegates.
The children testified in support of a proposed law to require local school boards to establish recycling programs. Reading hand-written statements from notebook paper, the students explained why they volunteer their recess periods crushing cans for recycling and otherwise helping the effort.
"When we throw away cans they are put in a hole in the ground. When that hole is filled up there will be another one and another one," Sylvana told the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee.
Third-grader William Nicholson Price 2nd testified that "this bill will help save the earth."
Del. Anne S. Perkins, the committee chairwoman, praised the children's testimony, but said the bill's success could not be guaranteed when the committee votes in a few weeks. "We are very conservative about requiring more things for the local school boards to do," said Perkins, D-City.
Every dollar counts: Everyone in state government is supposed to be looking for ways to save money. The Senate did its part last week by approving and forwarding to the House a bill by Sens. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, and Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Anne Arundel, that would require state workers photocopying more than 10 pages of documents to use both sides of each sheet of paper. A study by the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning estimates that double-sided duplicating would save 16.5 million sheets of paper annually, or about $95,000. However, it will require the leasing of more costly photocopiers, at an annual increase to taxpayers of about $94,000 a year, the study found.
Exception made: Gov. William Donald Schaefer made a rare visit to the Senate Finance Committee last week to testify in favor of an administration bill to create a separate energy department.
After he had spoken for a couple minutes and announced that he was ready to leave, committee chairman Sen. Thomas P. O'Reilly, D-Prince George's, told the governor to ignore the little sign that warns people not to talk beyond five minutes. That doesn't apply to governors, O'Reilly said.
But, when it came time for Bruce Martin, one of Schaefer's legislative aides, to testify on behalf of the bill, the unofficial time-limit exemption didn't appear to apply.
"Bruce, turn the sign over," joked Sen. James C. Simpson. "It says three minutes for you."
Best sellers? You won't find anything by authors Stephen King or Tom Clancy on a new "best sellers" list in Annapolis, but you will find Clarence W. Blount and Peter G. Callas.
Bills sponsored by Democrats Blount, a Baltimore senator, and Callas, a delegate from Western Maryland, have made the best sellers list of the 1991 General Assembly session. The list, compiled by the Department of Legislative Reference, includes about 80 of the bills for which the department has received the most requests for information from the public.
Not surprisingly, some very controversial bills made the list, such as ones affecting abortion laws, the state budget, assault weapons and taxes. But the list also contains some bills that get substantially less newspaper ink. Blount's bill, for example, would continue the authority of the State Board of Cosmetologists and address other issues of concern to beauticians.
Callas' bill would recognize English as the language of official acts of state government. (To date, all legislation, for instance, already is written in English, or a close approximation thereof).
Thrifty:Thrifty: In a meeting of Baltimore senators last week, it was suggested that the fine be stiffened for holders of liquor licenses whose licensing checks are returned "not sufficient funds." Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-City, drew gasps when he suggested the licenses be revoked under those circumstances. One senator asked Lapides if he hadn't bounced a check at some point in his life. Quipped Sen. American Joe Miedusieski, D-City, "He's never written a check." Often ribbed for being one of the more thrifty lawmakers in Annapolis, Lapides says the only television in his house is a black and white set that he bought in 1963 to watch the funeral of President Kennedy.
Astle's departure: So many people had already said their farewells to Anne Arundel County Del. John C. Astle, a veteran Marine helicopter pilot who was called up for active duty due to the gulf war, that it seemed mildly redundant to have him stand on the House floor to give a few parting remarks.
But Astle is no slouch, even when it comes to saying goodbye for the umpteenth time.
"Today's the day," he began. "I can't find anyone else to host a party. I guess I've milked the press for all I can get. I guess I've got to go."
Before he turned to more serious words about his mission, Astle, 47, joked that he had a nightmare in which he failed his military physical and had to return to the State House in shame. "And I didn't know whether I had to give all my presents back."
Astle, a well-liked Democratic lawmaker who also throws a mean yo-yo, reported to Marine Corps Mobilization Center in Aberdeen before he left for Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday.