Before it is over, the mid-term changes taking place in the Maryland House of Delegates promise to be the biggest legislative shake-up in decades. House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell seems determined to reshape the House to fit his conservative, budget-cutting philosophy.
Already, two chairmen -- Charles J. "Buzz" Ryan from Prince George's County (Appropriations) and Anne S. Perkins from Baltimore (Constitutional and Administrative Law) -- have resigned from the legislature and a third -- John S. Arnick from Baltimore County (Judiciary) -- is expected to be ousted from his post shortly. Ms. Perkins' panel may be abolished. The two new committee chairmen are certain to be Mitchell loyalists.
A wholesale revamping of committee assignments may also be in the works, as Mr. Mitchell tries to give the key appropriations panel a conservative cast. The House speaker is determined to downsize government, but he needs a pliant budget panel to make it happen. The new appropriations chairman, Howard P. "Pete" Rawlings of Baltimore, is a dedicated liberal and advocate for the poor, but he is also eager to act as Mr. Mitchell's point man in sharply reducing the scope of government so as to avoid mammoth deficits in the next few years.