Some lobbyists even opt for respectability as reformers 0...

NOTES FROM ANNAPOLIS

April 01, 1991|BY THE ANNAPOLIS BUREAU STAFF

Some lobbyists even opt for respectability as reformers 0) target sins

With major bills aimed to curb their role in campaign fund-raising, lobbyists here have had to decide on a public posture: Do they support the bill or do they work their wiles against it? One can find both approaches in the hallways and byways of the capital.

But some elect an approach that combines humor with pathos and tends to suggest that the reformers may have been excessive in the level of sinfulness they have ascribed to the persuading trade.

One member of the advocating corps sat quietly on a marble benchin the House of Delegates office building last week with a red and white bumper sticker plastered rather conspicuously across her briefcase.

"Don't tell my mother I'm a lobbyist," it said. "She thinks I'm a piano player in a whorehouse."

ORIGINAL SIN

Add to all the speculation about Gov. William Donald Schaefer's problems this thought from the Catholic Review: The governor'stroubles really began in September when he embraced the right to abortion.

The article in the March 27 edition of the Baltimore archdiocesannewspaper was printed under a headline that read, The governor's fall from grace/Did it start the day he opted for abortion rights?"

It suggests that Mr. Schaefer's recent woes -- his lower-than-expected vote totals, his cranky outbursts, his low standing in the polls -- can be traced to his post-primary announcement that he personally opposes abortion but politically favors allowing women to make their own decisions.

"On the eve of the statewide elections last [year], the governor announced a divorce between his conscience and his political career," the story reported. "Since then, things started to go downhill."

"I have no comment," said Paul E. Schurick, the governor's press secretary.

LESS IS MORE

Delegate Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, offered his view o Annapolis realpolitik last week in a discussion about a bill purporting to regulate home-improvement contractors.

His comment came in answer to a question whether the proposed regulations were not so weak that they amounted to deluding the public.

Replied Mr. Taylor: "With the passage of this bill, we're deluding the public less than we already are."

STRIKE TWO!

With spring upon us, baseball metaphors appeared to be o the mind of Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg last week.

Standing before the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee on behalf of a bill intended to discourage discrimination in housing, the self-deprecating lieutenant governor took note of the Schaefer administration's failure to get a lot of its major initiatives through the General Assembly this year.

That, he said, is why he was backing the housing bill, sponsored by Delegate Carol S. Petzold, D-Montgomery.

"When I go before a Senate committee, I make sure [I'm supporting] only good bills. It pushes up on the batting average," he said.

"My batting average is pretty good," he said later, adding: "I walked quite a bit."

Suddenly realizing he may have spotted himself for differing with his boss, Governor Schaefer, on whether to push for the Linowes commission's tax-restructuring proposals, he quickly added: "It doesn't affect your batting average when you walk."

OOPS!

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, got a little clumsy wit the voting switch last week when it came time to vote on his own bill.

The Munson measure would allow people who are legally blind to get a driver's license if they can pass the test while wearing special bioptic lenses. Senator Munson had to quiet the snickers of his colleagues by telling them this was a serious matter.

In fact, a 17-year-old boy in his home district, whom the senator described as an outstanding athlete and speed skater, couldn't get to his job because he couldn't get a driver's license.

And, said Senator Munson, Virginia already has a law allowing the use of bioptic telescopic lenses.

Most of Senator Munson's colleagues agreed with him and voted to pass the bill.

But not Senator Munson. He pushed the red light on his own bill.

After the red light, signifying a no vote, glowed next to his name on the tally boards above the Senate floor, Senator Munson asked if he could be heard. He wanted to be recorded in the affirmative.

Amid much laughter, he explained, "I didn't have my bioptic lenses with me."

ULTIMATE CHECKOFF

Sen. Laurence Levitan, D-Montgomery, has had suc unexpectedsuccess with his "chickadee checkoff" program, that Delegate Charles W. Kolodziejski, D-Anne Arundel, tried this past week to get into the act.

Mr. Kolodziejski's idea was for a "gypsy moth checkoff."

The so-called chickadee checkoff was the brainchild of Senator Levitan. It allows Maryland taxpayers to add money on their tax returns to save endangered species or protect the Chesapeake Bay. Millions of dollars have been raised through the effort.

At the request of constituents tired of seeing their oak trees eaten by gypsy moths, Mr. Kolodziejski proposed a similar gypsy moth checkoff, with the money to be used for increased gypsy moth spraying.

First he succeeded in convincing the House to suspend its rules and permit late introduction of the bill. But then the measure ran into trouble in the Rules Committee, which noted that the House Ways and Means Committee had already killed a number of other "checkoff" proposals this year.

"Well, I'll just have to tell my constituents that we can't have the bill because you voted against it," Mr. Kolodziejski replied.

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