Lawmakers prepare to override vetos

The Political Game

Legislature: Gladden, Rosenberg set tone for effort to resurrect voting bills.

August 09, 2005|By David Nitkin and Andrew A. Green | David Nitkin and Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

MOST OF THE EFFORTS to encourage or stop a veto override when legislators reconvene in January have been focused on the so-called Wal-Mart bill, which mandates higher health care spending by large companies.

But lawmakers also are preparing for a struggle over a number of lower-profile bills Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. vetoed, including four that Democrats say would make voting easier and more secure but which Republicans claim are an invitation to fraud.

At a rally celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act last week, Sen. Lisa A. Gladden and Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, both Baltimore Democrats, launched an override effort for the bills.

The measures would establish early voting; allow Marylanders to get absentee ballots on demand; clarify the rights of voters whose qualifications are challenged; and require the state to study the establishment of a voter-verified paper trail for electronic ballots.

Gladden said groups including the League of Women Voters and the League of Conservation Voters plan other rallies before the legislative session. She said she's confident that at least the bill dealing with voter challenges and provisional ballots will get an override vote.

And Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has been a strong supporter of allowing early voting. His backing is usually a good sign for a bill's prospects.

"We should have the votes to override the vetoes," Gladden said.

Ehrlich should welcome investigation, Miller says

As Ehrlich ratcheted up his rhetoric last week against the legislative committee assigned to investigate his personnel practices, Miller proffered the novel idea that the administration should actually be happy about the lawmakers' probe.

The investigation began as a look into reports that Ehrlich loyalists such as Public Service Commission Executive Director Craig Chesek, former aide Joseph F. Steffen Jr. and Greg Maddalone, the competitive ice dancer turned Maryland Port Administration executive, had been assigned to state agencies to identify for firing people who don't support Ehrlich politically.

But the upshot of the committee's work, Miller said, is likely that the General Assembly will pass a law reducing from 7,000 the number of "at will" employees who can be fired by the governor any time.

That would mean, ironically enough, that if a Democrat beats Ehrlich in 2006, he would be stuck with Chesek, Maddalone and some of the other people Ehrlich hired under the old rules, Miller said.

Young Democrats seek fun at Ehrlich's expense

The Prince George's County Young Democrats are looking for laughs by running a caption contest for a photograph of Ehrlich on a golf course with embattled House of Representatives minority leader Tom DeLay (they were colleagues in Congress).

To see the photo and enter the contest, go to http://www.pgcyd.org/contest.htm. Heck, even Republicans can submit an entry. Winner gets a gift card.

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