INSPIRED BY no one and responding in kind to the leadership of indecision coming from a politically catatonic governor, the Maryland legislature has self-distruction without a trace of significant achievement. That, after three months of frantic exercise and spectacular posturings for home consumption, is the sum-and-no-substance story from the statehouse, where acrimony replaced progress as the most important product.
If a good excuse for a bad start were acceptable -- and this one does have a certain sorry truth to it -- the lawmakers' lament could begin, "The trouble with Harry . . ." Long before the opening session in January, more than a few responsible legislators had noticed that after a delightfully fat year for revenues, belts were going to tighten mercilessly without some realistic revenue-raising moves. But Gov. Harry Hughes couldn't make up his mind, wanted more time, took more than anybody ever imagined and then boldly reported that he wasn't sure but he just might go along with an even tougher version of a proposal offered months before by a state senator.
This turned a gas bill into a hot political potato that finally got flipped into the legislative disposal on the last day. Apologists in the House committee passed off their action as a mercy killing, noting that the Senate -- scene of a filibuster festival all day Monday -- would have talked it to death, anyway, as it did everything else of any consequence.
The biggest task ahead will be to take a body count of all the dead bills and sift through the rubble of the governor's legislative program for clues to how bad life may be under a shredded budget. In the meantime, taxpayers can try to relax in the immediate knowledge that as their lawmakers return from Annapolis the youth of Maryland will still be out there drinking and driving along battered roads and unsafe bridges. But just as neither the money nor the laws will be there to repair those roads and bridges or curb teen-age drinking, the political leadership necessary to accomplish anything in 1981 will remain among the missing