Judge rejects GOP challenge on delegation

Democrats retain leadership positions

McMillan's lawsuit fails

Majority decides what local bills are introduced

January 10, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

A judge tossed out yesterday a legal challenge that Republicans hoped would give them control of Anne Arundel County's House delegation.

The ruling means Democrats will hold key leadership posts for four years in the General Assembly.

In the case of McMillan v. Love - newly elected Republican Del. Herbert H. McMillan of Annapolis vs. Democratic Del. Mary Ann Love of Glen Burnie - the Republicans challenged a vote last month by the county's outgoing House of Delegates delegation. Love was its chairman.

In that Dec. 2 vote, the delegation - including two Democratic delegates who had been defeated in the November election - approved giving one vote each to three Prince George's County delegates whose district contains a sliver of Anne Arundel County. The result was an 8-7 majority for the Democrats.

The delegation had previously agreed that the three Prince George's delegates would have one collective vote. If that system had continued, Republicans would have held a majority in the new delegation.

The county's delegation largely controls what local legislation is introduced in the House, and local courtesy carries significant weight. If a local delegation wants a bill for its county, the full House typically goes along.

Attorney John Greiber, who represented the Republican in the lawsuit, said the loss means the GOP members will have a harder time being heard.

"I don't think their agenda will get to the [House] floor," he said after the hearing.

In deciding to throw out the lawsuit after less than an hour of argument, Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck had to rule on the function of the delegation.

Its role determined whether the principle of "one man, one vote" applied. If that applied, the Prince George's delegates would not be entitled to the same voting power as the delegates whose districts rest solely in the county, Greiber argued.

The three delegates based in Prince George's represent about 24,000 people in Anne Arundel. A full district contains a little more than 110,000 people.

"By the creation of three artificial votes, they've thwarted the mandate of the voter of Anne Arundel County by not letting out the bills the Republicans want to get out," Greiber argued in court. He said Republicans will decide today whether to appeal.

The delegation is scheduled to meet Monday to elect a chairman and vice chairman. Love said yesterday that she is a candidate for the top post.

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