Groups pressing for legislation to help the poor, notably Catholic Charities, had a string of victories this year, especially on broad issues involving family and child welfare.
Hughes included in his $6.2 billion budget a 9 percent welfare grant increase and funds to return to the welfare rolls some 3,000 welfare recipients who were cut by the Reagan administration, both of which were approved by the legislature.
Catholic Charities, led by lobbyist Cheryl Lynch, considers welfare its top legislative priority and the group was pleased that the legislature also passed two bills that will restore some welfare funds for pregnant women during their first six months of pregnancy, another set of benefits cut by President Reagan. Now Hughes will have to decide whether to sign the Senate-sponsored bill, which the Catholic Church supported and which provides funds for women and their "anticipated" children, or a House bill, which women's groups support (because it avoids the "unborn" child issue), that simply provides money for pregnant women.
After three years of trying, Catholic Charities won another coveted piece of legislation that will ease the process of adopting children and of placing foster-care children in new homes.
The church lobby also was instrumental in working out a compromise that led to passage of a bill that will require the registration of crew leaders who hire migrant farm workers, many of whom are employed on the Eastern Shore.
The church lobbies were less successful on the traditional Catholic issue of abortion. A perennial effort to curtail state-funded abortions failed in both the House and the Senate.
Divorce measures were on the church's agenda too. Although little legislation was enacted that will change divorce proceedings, the legislature undid a recent court ruling by requiring couples to appear in court in all divorce cases, rather than just in contested cases.