Assembly launches new session

January 12, 1995|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers John A. Morris, Frank Langfitt and John W. Frece contributed to this article.

An article in yesterday's editions stated incorrectly that Del. James E. Malone Jr., D-Baltimore County, arrived for the first day of the legislative session in a limousine. In fact, the delegate's parents and several other family members rode in the limousine. He arrived by car.

The Sun regrets the error.

Surrounded by hundreds of relatives, friends, political allies, lobbyists, tourists and assorted onlookers, 188 members of the Maryland General Assembly gathered in Annapolis yesterday to launch the state's 409th legislative session.

The only thing missing was Welcome Wagon -- and it was missed. With the largest number of newcomers to the legislature in two decades, spectators needed seating charts to figure out who was who.


But for most die-hard supporters, it was enough to see their husband or wife or child or parent or neighbor be sworn into office. The unusually large crowd -- even by opening day standards -- packed the visitor galleries, lobbies and marbled corridors of the State House.

"I can't be sure if I just said hello to a legislator, a guest, a doorman or a caterer," said Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington.

Day 1 of the 90-day session required no heavy lifting from participants -- aside from plate-balancing at the numerous buffets and receptions held for the returning delegates and senators.

House and Senate officers were elected and speeches were made, but mostly, it was a day of handshakes and greetings.

The only grumbling among lawmakers was directed at the controversial auto emissions test that was scheduled to begin this month but has been beset by computer problems. Legislators have been hearing from irate motorists upset with the more elaborate and costly tests.

Two Baltimore County Democrats, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas L. Bromwell and Sen. Norman R. Stone, announced plans to sponsor a bill to limit the maximum emissions-related repair to $150. Currently, a car that fails the test could face repairs of $250 this year.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, accepted his post with a lengthy speech. He talked of lobbying reform, a possible tax cut, attracting new businesses, reforming welfare, reducing real estate closing costs, and cutting red tape.

Prince George's County Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. was elected president for the ninth consecutive year, the second longest tenure for a Senate presiding officer in this century.

He predicted a Senate with 20 of 47 members new would "hit the ground running," in part because so many of them had previous experience in the House or, in the case of freshman Royden P. Dyson, in both the House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Those of you who thought we were old fogeys, or mossbacks, or reactionaries will find we are actually visionaries," Senator Miller told the newcomers.

Gov.-elect Parris N. Glendening, who made courtesy visits to both chambers, predicted that he would work well with the Senate president and House speaker. "What's extraordinary about this is the three of us are in agreement about the basic issues to be addressed," Mr. Glendening said.

Del. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Baltimore, was elected House speaker pro tem, the first African-American to hold that post. In an emotional address, he dedicated the day to his parents, former South Carolina sharecroppers.

Baltimore County's Senator Stone was elected Senate president pro tem. The Dundalk lawyer nervously accepted, admitting it was the first time in his 32 years in Annapolis he had addressed the full Senate from the rostrum.

Freshman Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a Baltimore Democrat, led a caravan of family and supporters to Annapolis from his West Franklin Street campaign headquarters and district office.

While many of his group watched the delegate take the oath of office on a large-screen TV set in the lobby outside, the delegate's father, former state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell III, and his great-uncle, former U.S. Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, sat with him on the House floor.

"My grandfather [Clarence M. Mitchell Jr.] used to tell us that public service is the rent we pay to be on this earth," said Lisa Mitchell, the delegate's sister and chief of staff. "That's what this day means to us."

Del. James E. Malone Jr. traveled to the State House in style. The 37-year-old Catonsville firefighter was picked up in a gold limousine driven by family friend Mike Swidowich wearing a tuxedo.

Many legislators had difficulty getting to their seats because of the crush of spectators. The lobby would not part when Gov. William Donald Schaefer arrived. After a few minutes, he and his state troopers were forced to walk back upstairs to an elevator to a rear entrance into the House of Delegates.

Children were everywhere. Four boys in coats and ties were seen playing poker in the House lounge.

Elena Frosh, the 7-year-old daughter of Sen. Brian E. Frosh, D-Montgomery, was hanging around, too, but only reluctantly. She told her father the night before, "It's not like there are going to be clowns or anything."

"I told her she's one of the few people who think that," Senator Frosh confided.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.