If you keep your head while those around you are losing theirs . . .



In the category of "Most Inspired Testimony by a Supporting Lobbyist," the winner last week was . . . (the envelope, please) . . . Joseph A. "Jay" Schwartz III, for his stirring biblical polemic about, of all things, punitive damages.

Representing the association of defense trial lawyers, Mr. Schwartz told the House Judiciary Committee how he had fought three years ago -- before it became popular -- for reform of the law that governs jury awards that punish corporate wrongdoers.

"Like John the Baptist," Mr. Schwartz said, "No. 1, we were a little early; No. 2, it appears that today our message is sort of being accepted; and No. 3, at least in those early days, my head was cut off." Figuratively, of course.


At the conclusion of each day's Senate sessions, the chairmen ** of the four standing committees stand to announce what their panels plan to do that afternoon or the following day.

One day last week, Sen. Clarence W. Blount, a Democrat of Baltimore, said the Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee he chairs would be meeting at 1 p.m., but he added that the day's agenda contained "nothing of real substance."

Sen. Walter M. Baker, a Cecil County Democrat, shot to his feet and said: "I want to remind my seatmate that one of those bills is mine!"

As his colleagues laughed, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat of Prince George's County, added: "I think [Senator Blount] is right this time."


Del. Brian K. McHale, a South Baltimore Democrat, took constituent service to a new level last week.

He was on his regular jog through his district when he passed a gas station.

The attendant ran up along side him and said someone had stolen his red moped. The delegate said he would keep his eyes open.

"I go about two blocks, and I see some teens with a red moped. I go back and get the [owner] and run back, but the kids are gone," the delegate said.

The two men split up to look for the teens. Mr. McHale spotted them in an alley. "I said [to one of them], 'I know you stole that moped.' He said, 'No, I found it.' At this point I'm five miles into my three-mile run."

The teen asked Mr. McHale how he could identify the moped, and the delegate left to find the gas station attendant.

But by the time the two returned, the teens had vanished.

Meanwhile, news of the theft filtered back to Mr. McHale's neighborhood. A friend who cuts the grass at Latrobe Park, near the delegate's home, spotted the teens and the red moped.

The man put a flashing light atop his car and drove toward them.

The teens threw down the moped and ran away, apparently unable to compete with "a little South Baltimore networking" and community effort, the delegate said.

D8 The moped was returned to the gas station attendant.


It was time for the final quorum call of the day, and when Senate President Miller looked around the chamber, he realized that three senators were not at their seats.

With a delegation of dignitaries from Korea watching from the second-floor balcony, the Senate president apparently felt compelled to explain the absence of three lawmakers from the last roll call.

The three missing lawmakers were Sen. Frederick C. Malkus, D-Dorchester; Howard R. Denis, R-Montgomery; and Albert R. Wynn, D-Prince George's.

"Senator Malkus is testifying in court," Mr. Miller said of the dean of the Senate. "Senator Denis is with the president," referring a visit to Maryland that morning by President Bush. "And Senator Wynn," a candidate for Congress, "is trying to get the endorsement of the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] in Prince George's County."

Today in Annapolis

3 p.m.: Senate Budget and Taxation and Finance committees discuss impact of budget reductions on nursing homes and hospitals, Room 100, Senate Office Building.

5 p.m.: House Judiciary Committee considers legislation to require adult motorcyclists to wear helmets when they ride, Joint Hearing Room, Legislative Services Building.

8 p.m.: House and Senate convene, State House.

There are 71 days remaining in the 1992 General Assembly session.

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