Legislative process demystified For laughs: Checklist provides tongue-in-cheek look at reasons ("bad hair days" not included) bills are killed.

The Political Game

April 09, 1996|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

JUST HOURS ago, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned sine die. All that's left now until next January is the legal and fiscal hangover from the last 90-day binge.

To many Marylanders, exactly what legislators do down there in Annapolis is a mystery. (In fact, to many who make their living in the capital, including some senators and delegates, it's a mystery.)

Your correspondent was reminded of the former last week, when one political neophyte asked why a certain bill didn't pass this year. It was a good, white-hat bill -- a no-brainer to vote green on -- that should have flown through both houses.

Who knows the real reason it was killed? It could have been any number of a thousand things, some of them actually reasonable.

But as a stab in the dark at an answer, and in an effort to somewhat demystify the process, it seemed apropos to trot out something from an old bag of tricks -- a leftover from one of the committees that made the rounds a few sessions ago.

It is a checklist of a dozen possible reasons for "Why the bill failed," an official-looking sheet that bears an uncanny resemblance to a committee voting list, even down to the blanks for Bill No., Title and Primary Sponsor.

It was meant to be -- and is -- funny, but in every joke, as they say, there lies a truth.

Perhaps her answer lies in the following reasons:

* "It received an unfavorable vote."

* "Good bill/bad sponsor."

* "Good sponsor/bad bill."

* "Good bill/good sponsor/bad day."

* "Good bill/good sponsor/good day/bad lobbyist.*

(*irritating and/or cheap)"

* "Committee needed to improve kill ratio [the ratio of bills killed to those passed]."

* "It felt good at the time."

* "[Staffer] wanted the bill passed."

L * "The committee report already had a favorable bill on it."

* "Governor's bill."

* "It was a piece of [waste]."

* "All of the above."

Young, Cummings making deals, political insiders say

State Sen. Larry Young, a West Baltimore Democrat, was elected chairman of the recently revitalized Legislative Black Caucus on Friday -- the result of a deal cut for a successor to Del. Elijah E. Cummings in the Maryland General Assembly, political insiders say.

Mr. Young, who won the spot in a heated, secret-ballot election against Del. Tony E. Fulton, was backed by Mr. Cummings, who is expected to become the next 7th District congressman in next Tuesday's special election for former Rep. Kweisi Mfume's seat.

Mr. Cummings, the House speaker pro tem, apparently helped persuade other black legislators to vote for Mr. Young after the senator agreed to support a compromise candidate for the House of Delegates from the city's 44th Legislative District.

The early money as a successor to Mr. Cummings was someone he once supported -- Traci K. Miller, a 28-year-old city prosecutor who had impressed many in the political establishment with her bid in the 27-candidate Democratic primary last month for Mr. Mfume's 7th District seat.

But Mr. Young, the 44th District leader, apparently said no, dug in his heels and initiated a quiet, "anybody-but-Traci Miller" campaign among decision-makers in the district. The word on the street was that "if she wants the seat, she can work for it," by running in 1998.

So now, among the other names being floated publicly are those of Elaine R. McCloud, 41, a Democratic central committee member, and Verna Jones, 40, a West Baltimore housing activist who lost a 1994 Democratic primary bid for a 44th District seat.

Ms. McCloud, an old friend of Mr. Cummings, is said to have been agreed upon as the compromise candidate for the slot. She is expected to be appointed to the House by the 44th District's Democratic Central Committee members -- four of the five votes are controlled by Mr. Young -- if Mr. Cummings is elected to

Congress.

As for a successor to Mr. Cummings as speaker pro tem, keep an eye on Del. Thomas E. Dewberry, the Baltimore County Democrat who helped line up votes in Catonsville for Mr. Cummings in the congressional primary.

Bereano does good deed for arts with pro bono work

In a rare move, Bruce C. Bereano, once the highest paid lobbyist in Annapolis, took on clients for free this year.

In fact, Mr. Bereano, who was in Richmond Friday before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on an appeal of his 1994 federal mail fraud convictions stemming from political fund-raising activities, represented three pro bono clients -- the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, the Baltimore Streetcar Museum and the Maryland Association of Community Action Agencies, a former paying client -- in the session that adjourned last night.

Mr. Bereano scored pay dirt on two bond bills for two of the clients, winning $250,000 in state matching funds for the arts hall renovation and $190,000 (of the $450,000 sought) in matching funds for the trolley museum, which is planning a move from its Falls Road location to the B&O Railroad Museum on Pratt Street.

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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