After years of anguish, Del. Frank C. Robey Jr. (D-Baltimore) found a way to cope with his son's death, to soften the personel tragedy.
He become the champion of pedestrian safety, sponsoring legislation aimed at preventing the type of traffic accident that killed his 12-year-old son.
I known I can't bring Frankie back," Robey said. "But it gives me some peace of mind to help others avoid the agony my family has gone through."
Many Maryland lawmakers use bills for purely political ends, to score points with the voters or reward their friends and political allies. Others have an intellectual or professional interest in legislation.
Robey is one of a handful of lawmakers who have a deep emotional stake in legislation. Because of some personal adversity or special experience, they have an extraordinary commitment to certain bills.
In an arena of callous vote trading, fast parliamentary maneuverings and dispassionate speeches, lawmakers with strong emotional involvement in bills have carved out a special place for themselves.
"I have the type of human impact the legislature needs," said Robey, whose son was killed by a truck in 1974. "This isn't like anything else for me. I'm emotionally committed to it."
Sen. John C. Coolahan (D-Baltimore County) became an ardent supporter of legislation to legalize the cancer treatment Laetrile after his 72-year-old father had cancer surgery last December.
When Coolahan's father firmly rejected the use of chemotherapy and radiation treatment in the event of a recurrence, the senator suggested Laetrile and found his father responsive.
"He should have a right to take (Laetrile) if he decides he wants it," Coolahan said in support of his bill to make the drug available to cancer patients. "It's that one ray of hope."
Sen. Melvin A. Steinberg (D-Baltimore County) has departed just once from his support of legislation to end the death penalty in Maryland. That once was in 1968 ofter his uncle was beaten to death by a mugger.
Steinberg recalls sitting in a Senate committee hearing that year and listening to a prison chaplain argue against capital punishment because of the emotional trauma it causes the family of the condemned person.
"My uncle funeral was the same week," said Steinberg. "I had just left my aunt and cousins. Their whole family structure was destroyed. I said (to the chaplain), 'You're talking about sympathy for the murderer's family?' It turned me off."
Sen. Edward T. Conroy (D-Prince George's) is the legislature's strongest advocate of veterans rights for a very personal reason. He lost his left arm and the use of his left leg in the Korean War's battle for Heartbreak Ridge 25 years ago.
"I've always been out front (on veterans issues) because of my own experience," explained Conroy, who spent two years in veterans hospitals. "I've seen a lot of guys get killed and wounded and I probably have a deeper understanding for them and their families."
One of this session's most emotional questions - whether adopted persons should have the right to obtain the names and locations of their biological parents - sharply divided law-makers who are adoptive parents.
Del. Donald L. Rosenshire (D-Anne Arundel), who adopted a girl six years ago, feels a personal need to co-sponsor legislation aimed at making that information more readily available for adopted persons who are at least 21 years old.
"I want my child to have an opportunity to find her biological parents if she so chooses," Rosenshine said. "She has a right to find out things about herself. Once you're an adoptive parent, you start to realize some of the needs of adoptees."
Some of the strongest opposition comes from other adoptive parents in the legislature, including Sen. Victor L. Crawford (D-Montgomery), who said such a bill could be "devastating" for adoptees.
"I'm willing to fight this as hard as I can," Crawford said. "It's more important than fighting for money for your county or civil liberties. You're fighting for a family committment."