More in Md.'s General Assembly are making a career of politics Full-time pols often vote against business

September 15, 1993|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

For an increasing number of Maryland legislators, politics is not just a three-month exercise in lawmaking; it's their entire career. And that, according to a new survey, is bad for business.

One-third of Maryland's state lawmakers -- 63 of the 188 delegates and senators in the General Assembly -- are full-time legislators, according to a study released yesterday by Maryland Business for Responsive Government.

In 1968, there were only 19 full-time legislators in the General Assembly, based on research by MBRG, a nonprofit business group that tracks political issues.

"The days of the citizen legislator seem to be over in Maryland and in most other states," said Robert O.C. Worcester, president of the business group.

This also has ramifications for Maryland companies, because career legislators are less likely to side with business interests, Mr. Worcester said. The survey showed that legislators with a business background voted with business 65.5 percent of the time; career legislators voted for business 53.3 percent of the time.

Worse, from the business point of view, about 22 of the 68 full-time legislators are former teachers or school administrators -- another group that is not sympathetic to business needs, Mr. Worcester said.

At yesterday's news conference, the business group also announced that its new chairman was Bailey A. Thomas, chairman and chief executive of the Sparks-based McCormick & Co. Inc. Mr. Thomas succeeds J. Stevenson Peck, retired chairman of Signet Bank/Maryland.

"MBRG and the Maryland business community is fortunate to have the chief executive officer of McCormick, who can help elected officials understand what it takes to attract and keep companies like McCormick in Maryland," Mr. Worcester said.

The study found that the second-largest group in the Assembly were business owners and employees, who accounted for 56 of the lawmakers. That group is made up of 43 business owners and 13 employees.

The rest of the Assembly consists of 41 lawyers, 16 teachers or school administrators, five government workers and seven people with other occupations.

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