There was a last-minute fillibuster in the Senate, an argument become a lobbyist and a delegate in the same big, a reception in the Governor's Maryland without the ailing governor - and franilc lobbying in the marble hallways of the Statehouse.
In all, a general scene of near-pandemoulim today masked the fact that nearly all of the important issues of this rather lackluster session of the Maryland General Assembly had been decided long before the clock tolled the end of the 90-day session at midnight.
Out of the chaos, the legislators at least managed to bring their legislators at least managed to bring their legislative calendar up to date. Because of parliamentary quirks, the House's calendar of 90 days had fallen four day "behind."
So in rapid succession, the House made up for lost time by adjourning and recomvening four times, complete with opening prayers and quorum calls.
The day also was filled with arguments over procodures and amondments, and right to the end, like the resilient boxer Rocky, Del. Charles A. Doctor was offering new amendments to bills - and just as regularly having them rejected.
Like any final session day, today was marked by a hasty consideration of bills that left little time for the kind of care the legislature normally takes.
This morning, for example, Senators anxious to amend a bill revising the structure of the state's major antidiscrimination agency were frustrated by the Senate leadership's desire to pass the bill in an unamended form so it would not have to go back to the House of Delegates for reconsideration.
"If these amendments are adopted, it will kill the bill," said Sen. John A. Cade (R-Anne Arundel), ". . . I suggest we reject thhte amendment, not because it is not a g ood idea but because the bill will never pass if it is sent back to the House."
The bill, passed by a reluctant House earlier in the session, gives the human relations commission for the first time the power to assess monetary fines in employment discrimination cases. Senators opposed to the bill wanted to add an amendment to ensure rural representation on the commission.
Another characteristic of legislative final days is the legislators' penchant for killing legislation that might be amended and passed if it came up for vote on any other day.
Today, for example, the Senate killed a bill that would have given a competitive advantage to some chain grocery stores by preventing chain stores that do not currently have licenses to sell beer and wine from obtaining such license in the future.
At 3 p.m., the first wave of legislators headed across the street from the State House to the governor's mansion for the governor's annual reception. Only the governor was not there. He is in the hospital recuperating front what doctors have described as a mild stroke.
Instead, they were greeted by the governor's wife, Jeanne, and Lt. Gov. Blair Lee III. By 5:30 p.m., when the last legislators made their way to the manslon, the two were gone. Either Potash, the governor's sister, had become the officail hostess.
After the Senate passed and sent to Mandel a hill and would prohibit the Chesapeake & Petomac Telephone Co. from imposing any charge for calls to information, operators, the sponsor of the measure, Del. Raymond E. Dypoli (D-Baltimore) and phone company lobbyist Orville Wright got into a shouting match in the Statehouse canteen.
"He told me that if I was lucky enough to get re-elected, I'd have to use a couple of sessions just to pay off all the votes I owed," Dypaki said.
"We both made it loud and clear," added the popular Baltimore delegate, who devoted virtually all of his energy this session to winning passage for the bill that Wright lobbied vigorously to defeat.
As the session droned on, parties broke out in and around the ancient Statehouse, and Mandel lobbyist Frank H. Harris, his pet projects either passed or burried, turned his attention to selling $20 tickets to a ball round that will benefit the defenes fund of Mandel.
Harris and Edward W. Lupinok, on Eastern Shore seafood wholesaler, were put in hopes of raising $3,000 to $4,000 to help put a little dent in the legal bill - some estimated it as much as $250,000 - that Mandel ran up in the aborted 13-week political corruption trial last fall.
The bull roast will be held May 15 at the Kent Island Yacht Club.
While Briscoe gave delegates a one-hour afternoon break, State Senate President Steny H. Hoyer (D-Prince George's) pushed his colleagues through the day without a lunch or dinner break and without the consolation of conversations with the press or lobbyists.
This morning Hoyer had a message plastered on the Senate press table: Legislators the Senate chamber. That rule was quickly amended by a Senator who procceded to talk to a reporter on the Senate floor.