All the players in a game of Senate musical chairs may now have their seats, and the new committee rosters in the Maryland Senate have created subtle shifts in the political landscape.
The dance began when Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr. (D-Baltimore County) asked to be moved off the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Stone, a lawyer who works for Baltimore lawyer and Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos, encountered questions last session about potential conflicts between his obligations to Angelos and his work on the committee.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) sent Stone to the Budget and Taxation Committee, presumably intending to have him swap seats with Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D-Montgomery), who succeeded Stone as president pro tem.
But Ruben wouldn't budge. In a recent interview, she said she didn't want off the powerful budget committee. So Miller told her she could stay. He opted instead to leave Stone's seat on Judicial Proceedings empty.
The result: It now will become more difficult to pass measures in both the Judicial Proceedings and the Budget and Taxation committees.
The 11-member Judicial Proceedings Committee now has 10 members, which will make it harder to cobble together a six-member majority. Legislation can effectively be killed on a tie, or 5 to 5, vote.
Meanwhile, Miller's move to expand Budget and Taxation to 14 members means eight votes, instead of seven, will be needed to send a measure to the full Senate. Again, tie votes effectively kill a matter.
"There's no question that's going to make things more difficult," said Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman (D-Baltimore).
Miller said Stone's presence will bring some geographic balance back to the Budget and Taxation Committee by returning a seat to Baltimore County that was lost when Sen. Vernon F. Boozer (R) left in 1998.
Another switch brings Sen. John J. Hafer (R-Allegany) to Budget and Taxation and sends Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr. (D-Anne Arundel) to the Finance Committee. The swap, Miller said, helps adjust the budget committee's political balance, which was upset late last year when Sen. Robert R. Neall (Anne Arundel) switched from being a Republican to a Democrat.
One clear winner in all this motion is Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Montgomery), who was elevated to vice chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee. He will take the spot Ruben surrendered in exchange for her promotion to president pro tem.
More Friends of Bill (Bradley)
Bill Bradley's list of supporters for his Democratic presidential campaign in Maryland has taken further shape.
The honorary chairman of Bradley's steering committee is William Donald Schaefer, the state comptroller and former governor. The 12-member committee also includes House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (Allegany), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Howard P. Rawlings (Baltimore) and Baltimore County Executive C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger.
Supporters from the Washington suburbs include Del. Cheryl C. Kagan (Montgomery), Del. Elizabeth Bobo (Howard), Prince George's State's Attorney Jack B. Johnson and Prince George's County school board Vice Chairman Angela Como (Laurel).
Going the Extra Mile for Gore
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) stumped for Vice President Gore in New Hampshire this week, joining the roster of members of Congress called to whip up support for the Gore campaign three weeks before the nation's first presidential primary.
Mikulski, the Senate's senior woman and secretary of the Democratic caucus, spoke at two senior centers, held a "town hall" meeting with middle school students and met with a women's group. A fiery speaker, the third-term senator is a popular draw with labor and party activists, who are key to Gore's hopes of besting former Democratic senator Bill Bradley, of New Jersey.
"I'm honored that Al Gore has asked me to be one of his national surrogates," Mikulski, 63, said before the two-day swing. "I believe he has the right stuff to be our first president in the new century."
Glendening's New Spokeswoman
Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) has a new spokeswoman. Former radio reporter Raquel Guillory is now the deputy press secretary. Most recently, she was a reporter for Metro Networks, a radio news service in Baltimore. Previously, she had been an anchor at WPGC-AM, which serves Prince George's County.
She fills the slot left open when Michelle Byrnie was promoted to press secretary last month. Both report to the governor's communications director, Michael Morrill.
Backhanded Tribute to Duncan
Thank you, Douglas M. Duncan. District officials are crediting the Montgomery county executive with inspiring them to complete their Y2K computer repairs on time.
In a "60 Minutes" segment last year that highlighted the contrast between the Montgomery and District Y2K programs, Duncan (D) said he doubted that the District could finish on time. He wasn't trying to kick his neighbor. His comments reflected the fact that the District started two years later than Montgomery and other jurisdictions.
Suzanne Peck, the city's chief technology officer, has been telling people privately that Duncan's comment served as a rallying cry for the District to get repairs done by Jan. 1. (It didn't hurt that the federal Office of Management and Budget kicked in more than $140 million.)
Told of Peck's remark, Duncan said: "I'm glad she's thinking of me. I'm always happy to help the District."
Staff writers Stephen C. Fehr and Spencer S.Hsu contributed to this report.