One look at Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes' schedule for yesterday suggested it was improbable: 10 a.m., conference in Ocean City; 1 p.m., bill-signing ceremony in the Baltimore suburb of Pikesville; 3:30 and 5 p.m., a ceremony followed by a reception in Annapolis.
Yes, it was real, said the governor's press spokesman, Louis Panos. Hughes joined the whirlybird set, first boarding a State Police helicopter in Annapolis to attend a 30-state conference on employment and training programs at Ocean City.
From there, Hughes went to State Police headquarters in Pikesville to sign into law a package of measures enacted at the recent General Assembly session to crack down on drunken driving. One bill raises the legal beer-drinking age from 18 to 21. A second loophole-closing bill outlaws probation-before-judgment for motorists accused of repeated drunken-driving violations. A third requires blood-alcohol tests for anyone involved in a fatal accident. Another raises the penalty for vehicular manslaughter from three to five years.
Back in Annapolis, Hughes handed out proclamations to voluntary organizations that do good works for Marylanders. Following that was a reception at Government House for volunteers in the cancer, heart, lung, juvenile and countless other fields.
Was Hughes' whirlwind tour somehow politically inspired? No, said spokesman Panos: "These are things a good governor would do ordinarily," which he couldn't do when the legislature was in session.