Democrats in the House of Delegates caucused last week to give one another some advice on doing their jobs and getting re-elected.
Del. Anne Healey, a Prince George's County Democrat, led a session on "Effective Media Relations." (We know that front-row Orioles tickets usually do the trick).
And Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat, talked about effective use of computers in the legislative office.
The seminar was open only to Democratic members of the House. But the ban wasn't just aimed at Republicans. The invitation also noted, "No staff permitted."
The reason, said caucus chairman Henry R. Hergenroeder, a Democrat of Baltimore, was simple: "Staff members have been known to run against their delegates."
Malkusism of the week
He's curious. He's a seeker of truth. He's Sen. Frederick C. Malkus, the 79-year-old Dorchester County Democrat who proves every week that you're never too old to learn something new.
Last week, for example, Mr. Malkus just had to ask a few questions of a 42-year-old Hagerstown man who had appeared before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to describe how his homosexuality had made him a victim of discrimination on the job.
After the man's emotional testimony, the senator got right to the point.
"How can you tell if someone is gay?" Mr. Malkus asked.
The man said there's no way to know from appearances.
Obviously puzzled, Mr. Malkus asked: "Then how do you get together with one another?"
Born to lose
The anti-helmet faction played all-or-nothing politics last week and came up on the nothing side.
Members of A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments (ABATE) lobbied hard to keep Sen. Philip C. Jimeno from introducing an amendment to the bill that would make not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle a secondary offense.
That would would have meant that riders could be ticketed for riding without a helmet only if they had violated another traffic law.
The anti-helmet forces feared that the amended bill would make it through the committee vote but thought that the bill as written would fail.
So they asked Mr. Jimeno not to offer the amendment.
Mr. Jimeno agreed. And the bill passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, 6-5.
Now ABATE wants to try to amend the bill on the Senate floor.
But Mr. Jimeno can't help them out by sponsoring his own amendment. "I have to stand by the committee vote," he said, adding that he would vote for secondary enforcement if someone else amended the bill.
Who's to blame -- the Republican president or the Democratic Congress?
Maryland delegates of both political persuasions engaged in finger-pointing last week when it came time to cast blame for a new federal requirement that states expand a medical program for poor children.
Baltimore County's Ellen R. Sauerbrey, leader of the Republican delegates, used the occasion to make a gentle dig at Congress for requiring states to spend more on social programs.
Del. Leon G. Billings, a Montgomery County Democrat, decided to fight back.
He asked his colleagues: Doesn't the president have the choice to sign a bill into law or veto it? (The president does).
"We can't just attack the Democratically controlled Congress [without including] the Republican president as well," he said.
His Democratic colleagues applauded.
Then Democrats and Republicans alike voted 120 to 3 to approve the bill.