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
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.