16-year veteran Maloney will leave Md. House seat

June 27, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer

Timothy F. Maloney, a Prince George's County lawmaker who rose in 16 years from "boy delegate" to one of the most influential politicians in Maryland, called it quits yesterday, saying he wants to devote more time to his law practice and private life.

"There is a season for everything," Mr. Maloney said in a letter to House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., announcing his long-rumored decision not to file July 5 for re-election this fall to a fifth General Assembly term.

The departure of the 38-year-old Riverdale lawyer will rob the legislature of one of its most articulate and politically shrewd players, someone who has been involved in most of the major budgetary and social issues facing state government during his tenure.

"He's the closest thing to an irreplaceable figure that I have met in 40 years in government, and that covers a lot of governors, a lot of mayors, and a lot of senators and delegates," said his friend Judge Robert F. Sweeney, chief judge of Maryland's District Court system.

As chairman of two Appropriations subcommittees, Mr. Maloney has wielded enormous budgetary power over prisons, transportation, the port of Baltimore, state police, insurance regulation, the court system and, most recently, public schools and higher education. As chairman of the capital budget subcommittee, he controlled the House purse strings for the state's annual public works construction program, which this year was $380 million.

Since arriving as a 22-year-old Democrat in 1978, Mr. Maloney also has been the leading spokesman and strategist in the House for the state's anti-abortion movement, one of the few efforts in his legislative career in which he was not successful.

He frequently served as deal-maker between warring factions within the House, between the House and Senate or between the legislature and the governor. This past winter, he played a key behind-the-scenes role fashioning the compromise among Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Redskins' owner Jack Kent Cooke and legislative leaders over competing plans to build a professional football stadium in Baltimore and Laurel.

Somehow, in the midst of balancing those various tasks with the demands of a thriving law practice, he found time to help write, plan and promote the annual Legislative Follies, a night of skits in which lawmakers make fun of themselves.

"He brought a tremendous sense of perspective, and a lot of intelligence," said Senate Minority Leader John A. Cade, an Anne Arundel County Republican. "I think he is borderline brilliant. He has the kind of qualities you need to be a legislator: some smarts, but some common sense, too. Above all else, a good sense of humor."

Some of Mr. Maloney's colleagues complained privately that they never were certain whether he might secretly be cutting some side deal. He also sometimes treated bureaucrats who appeared before his subcommittee harshly.

Yesterday, in a thoughtful, four-page letter to Speaker Taylor, Mr. Maloney warned that the General Assembly is drifting away from being a "citizen legislature" and moving dangerously close to becoming a full-time operation. "We need look no farther than the Congress to see the effects of full-time legislating on governance and independence," he said.

He recommended that the General Assembly move to a more stable biennial budget process, that it resist its temptation to "micromanage" the executive branch (even though he and his Appropriations Committee colleagues often did exactly that) and that it hold the line on salary increases for lawmakers to reflect the part-time nature of the job.

He also warned of the rise of partisanship and the power of special interest groups, suggesting both can paralyze the legislature.

Mr. Maloney said he had been thinking about leaving for about two years as the demands of the job made it increasingly difficult for him to attend to his law practice or spend time with the woman in his life, Carolyn Crowley, a lawyer in his firm.

He said he bought a house in March, but between then and the end of the legislative session a month later, "I saw it in daylight twice."

Mr. Maloney said he was proudest of legislation he pushed to repeal the death penalty for minors, but regretted that he was not able to repeal capital punishment entirely. He also cited programs that offer prisoners alternatives to incarceration and his role in creating an "It's OK to Say No" ad campaign designed to halt teen-age pregnancies and reduce the incidence of abortion. For that, he was awarded a plaque from Planned Parenthood, a prize few, if any, anti-abortion leaders can claim.

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