Hey, dude, is this Senate bill very excellent, or...

Annapolis Watch '92

March 16, 1992

Hey, dude, is this Senate bill very excellent, or what?

"Way, Mr. President!"

Is Sen. Walter M. Baker a secret "Wayne's World" fan? Or does the Cecil County Democrat who claimed he was dragged into the 20th century actually have a secret penchant for "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"?

These questions arise because Mr. Baker seemed to lapse into a credible imitation of MTV-speak last week, when he described a bill as "very excellent."

The bill at hand proposed dropping vehicle registration for golf carts on Smith Island, often used in place of motor vehicles. Mr. Baker said not only was the bill very excellent, it also was environmentally correct.

Very excellent? Environmentally correct? Walter Baker must be turning into a progressive liberal.

Not!

Bill nuked:

Here's a lesson about the dangers of bad acting.

A bill from Del. Gilbert J. Genn, D-Montgomery, would prohibit the sale of "irradiated food," except to hospitals or for medical research.

For those new to this culinary treat, look for the label that says the food has been treated with "ionizing radiation from radioactive sources, X-rays or electron beams" (yum).

At a hearing this month, lobbyist Carolyn Burridge hoisted two trays of strawberries -- one irradiated and one plain -- to prove to the Environmental Matters Committee that there was no detectable difference.

Mr. Genn sidled up to Ms. Burridge, popped a strawberry into his mouth and promptly choked and collapsed with a dramatic flourish before the committee. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, and he could've been a contender for an Oscar, except he picked the wrong tray.

P.S.: Mr. Genn survived, but the bill was nuked by the committee.

How many?

Tediously moving through hundreds of budget amendments last Friday, the Senate found itself pondering a riveting question on the order of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

How many assistant attorneys general are there in Maryland, anyway? Sen. James C. Simpson, D-Charles, seemed sure the answer would not please him.

A lot of them, said Sen. William Amoss, D-Harford. And Mr. Simpson knew that.

Some 252 by actual count, Mr. Amoss said before he was asked.

"Two hundred and fifty-two assistant attorneys general! Give me a break," Senator Simpson said. "I don't know how we ever allowed that to happen."

He wondered if he and the rest of the senators had been "snookered." He wondered if some previous attorney general had sprinkled assistant attorneys general across the bureaucratic landscape, assigning them to the state's many departments.

Precisely so, said Sen. John A. Cade, R-Anne Arundel.

"We recognize the proliferation," Senator Cade said, the work of an earlier attorney general who was "building his empire in anticipation of running for statewide office."

Mr. Cade did not say precisely how this snookering would have advanced a campaign, but the snookering didn't work. The grand proliferater had not been elected.

Nor would Mr. Cade say whom he was talking about, although students of politics might assume it was Stephen H. Sachs, who lost a bid for the governorship in 1986.

Mr. Amoss pointed out that snookering aside, the assistant attorney general corps was in decline. A couple of years ago there were 275. Then 261. Now there are 252.

"We're going in the right direction, albeit slowly," he sighed.

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