KNOWING FULL WELL the pitfalls of calling back the Maryland General Assembly for a special session next Friday, Gov. Hughes nevertheless has done the right thing. With nearly 11,000 Maryland workers scheduled to lose their unemployment benefits Saturday as a result of new federal regulations, the legislature has to act now to provide temporary relief--and there is no evidence that Uncle Sam will be coming to the rescue in Maryland or anywhere else.
While Maryland's congressional delegation looks into that aspect, the state legislators in Annapolis should authorize the use of money from the state's unemployment trust fund to pay the full costs of extending benefits for as long as necessary. That's a hefty tab, one in a series of obligations that states are having to assume in the absence of federal financing. But these are people who cannot find work and whose situations would be desperate without continued help.
The danger in recalling the legislature--and this is an election year--is that some lawmakers may be tempted to show off or go off on a political tangent, even though there is an unwritten understanding in Annapolis that the special session will stick to its assignment. Even if the agreement holds, the rescue of constituents in this case is ripe for grandstanding. To avoid it, Gov. Hughes and the leadership can grease the skids for a one-day session by working in advance with interested lawmakers to come up with a working legislative draft. The issue is too important and too urgent for political games.