Nancy Kopp, second-term delegate from Montgomery County, this week turned down -- with thanks -- a $38,000 a year post as appointment official to Gov. Harry W. Hughes.

The job is a top position in the Maryland governor's administration. In the old days of Maryland politics, it was the job held by chief dispenser of political partonage.

Kopp, offered the post several weeks ago, called the $22,000 pay boost it would have meant "very attractive" and said she was "honored by the offer."

But she said despite the importance of "finding good, qualified people" to serve in the state's thousands of appointive positions, she had declined because she felt she was making a quiet but significant contribution in the state legislature.

A spokesman for Hughes said Tuesday that "officially the governor has no comment, but obviously he regrets her not accepting the job and is now exploring other possible appointments."

The Bethesda Democrat was recently appointed chairman of the education and human resources subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. The subcommittee overseas education and social services in Maryland.

She also is coordinator of the joint committees on program evaluation which are looking into the effectiveness of state programs, and is active on a governor's commission that is reviewing the state personnel and pay system.

Kopp, 36, feels state employes in Montgomery and Prince George's counties suffer because of the unusually high cost of living in the Washington area, and should be given compensation -- as are Virginia state employes living in Washington's suburbs.

Kopp said she helped found -- and is now chairman of -- the legislative study group that increased computer information to the legislature and introduced rules requiring that committee votes be recorded.

Kopp, who holds a master's degree in political science from the University of Chicago and has college-level teaching experience, came to Washington in 1969 with her husband, Robert, who is acting head of the U.S. Justice Department's civil appellate division.

She immediately landed a job on Capitol Hill, with a subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

In 1971 she joined the staff of Montgomery County's delegation in Annapolis. When a new electoral district was drawn through redistricting in 1974, she recalled, "I ran and won, and here I am. And that's all there is to me."

Kopp gained the limelight four years ago by becoming the first state delegate to give birth.

For three years, Kopp and her husband and infant daughter lived in an Annapolis apratment during the 90-day sessions of the legislature, and he commuted to Washington.

Kopp now lives in Glen Echo and commutes to Annapolis three or four days a week during the legislative off-session from April to January, as do many delegates.