Delegates take part in an old-fashioned finger-pointing fest

Annapolis Watch '92

February 17, 1992

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 take 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 120-3 to approve the bill.

Helmet bill in motion

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 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, D-Anne Arundel, 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.

Student of life

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.

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