FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING: Pick an adjective for the renowned Capital Beltway. How about congested or slow or dangerous or frustrating or confusing? Not much can be done quickly to correct all its shortcomings, but at least one state legislator thinks he can help with the last problem. Sen. Howard A. Denis (R-Montgomery) introduced a resolution seeking to give the entire length of the Beltway a common number. Now, the western and northern stretches are Interstate 495, while the eastern arc is I-95. Highway officials long have opposed a change, saying I-95 is a widely recognized north-south corridor along the East Coast. Consequently, the Denis plan has been repeatedly rejected in Annapolis. This year, he has asked that, at a minimum, the eastern side have signs indicating both I-95 and I-495. "It's impossible to give directions as it is," Denis said.
Once again, Maryland legislators have struck a blow against a proposal dismissed by one Baltimore delegate as "paternalistic." As in prior years, a General Assembly committee quickly dispatched a bill seeking to require adult motorcyclists in the state to wear helmets. Minors already have to use helmets. Yet another committee rejected an alternative that would have forced riders to carry catastrophic health insurance to cover the cost of injuries. State health officials argued that, too often, taxpayers pick up the extraordinary bills for treatment and rehabilitation of riders who suffer head injuries. Members of the committee, said its chairman, thought the proposal would discriminate against one class of motorist: motorcycle riders. The defeat of the bills came earlier than usual this year, so fast that the traditional invasion of hog-riding lobbyists wasn't even necessary.
MIKE MAKES WRITE:
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) has undisguised ambitions to run for governor of Maryland, perhaps as soon as 1994. So he braced for criticism recently when he announced that veteran journalist Peter Kumpa, a political writer and columnist for the Evening Sun in Baltimore, would join his staff to help senators with media relations and act as Senate historian. Miller went to lengths to emphasize that Kumpa would assist all senators, Democratic and Republican, and insisted that 40 other legislative bodies across the country have similar positions. One of Kumpa's jobs will be to help coordinate major committee hearings so the schedule is accommodating to the news media. "He can bring the Senate into the 20th century," said Miller, an amateur historian. Critics suggest that Kumpa's voluminous knowledge of Maryland politics might also help provide a bigger place in history for Miller.
BY ANY OTHER NAME:
Mary H. Boergers served eight years in the House of Delegates before being elected to the Senate last year. The difference is stark, she said. "I didn't even have to get married to get my first name changed," she said. "Now everybody calls me 'senator.' Nobody called me 'delegate.' " Having moved up in the world, Boergers (D-Montgomery) has taken on bigger game: Gov. William Donald Schaefer. She and three delegates plan to challenge the governor's executive order that forced nearly 40,000 state workers to put in 40 hours a week instead of their usual 35 1/2. Wait a minute. Won't their bill just end up being vetoed by the same guy who issued the executive order? "We would like to work with the governor," she said. Spoken like a senator.
Today, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee holds hearings at 1 p.m. on the controversial Maryland State Games program, disbanded recently because of alleged fund misuse . . . . On Wednesday, Montgomery County lawyer R. Robert Linowes briefs the committee at 1 p.m. on the $800 million tax increase and restructuring plan he helped write . . . . On Thursday, a joint House-Senate committee holds a marathon hearing on abortion, from 1 to 6 p.m. in the Joint Hearing Room . . . . On Friday, Schaefer will release his budget proposal for the coming year.
For information on legislation before the General Assembly, call 301-858-3810 (toll free from the Washington area).