The Maryland Senate and House of Delegates are playing volleyball with congressional redistricting, hitting the ball back and forth in a political game that's beginning to tire the players.
The contest was to resume today in Annapolis with the score still 0-0.
For those keeping score, the action yesterday went like this: The House passed its plan and served it to the Senate. The Senate amended it to make it look like the plan the Senate approved Monday, then returned the new version to the House, which promptly swatted it back.
Just when the game would end was uncertain. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. wants the Senate and House to appoint a committee to negotiate an agreement, but House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. said yesterday he wouldn't do so.
Miller, Mitchell and two members of the congressional delegation, Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, and Beverly Byron, D-6th, met late last night in the State House. But Miller and Mitchell said they didn't reach an agreement.
Lawmakers in both chambers said they were growing weary of the deadlock and wanted to focus on the state budget crisis.
"The public feels, and rightfully so, we've spent too much time on this issue," Miller, D-Prince George's, said.
But neither side was willing to give up and let the federal courts devise new boundaries for the state's eight congressional districts.
"I think even though we don't have a conference committee, the game goes on," said Sen. Howard A.Denis, R-Montgomery.
Mitchell, D-Eastern Shore, said he opposes appointing a committee because it wouldn't be fair to have six committee members, three from each chamber, work out a plan that the House then would have to accept or reject.
What mainly divides both sides is their inability to agree on a district that would combine the bases of Reps. Tom McMillen, D-4th, and Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-1st, and in all likelihood force them to run against one another next year.
Both chambers propose combining part of Anne Arundel County with the Eastern Shore. But the Senate wants to knock Cecil County from the Shore portion of the district and make up the difference with more Anne Arundel County residents.
Mitchell wants to keep Cecil County in. In his plan, approved by the House, Shore residents would be a majority.