The state's upper chamber has so far rejected the notion of adding a waiting period for staffers. "It is an idea that is utopian," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, said in an interview. "It could do more harm for a young person's career," he added.
He said thousands of paid staffers in the State House complex "serve in so many different capacities."
"This puts a road block in the way of young people going to look for other opportunities," said Miller, who prides himself on the success of the many staffers who have worked in his office. A raft of them have gone on to become Annapolis' top lobbyists, including Tim Perry and Gerry Evans, both of whom reported compensation of more than $1 million in 2011.
The most recent was Caitlin E. McDonough, a former legislative director to Miller who started with the lobbying firm Harris Jones & Malone just before the August special session on expanded gambling, a measure that passed and has been ratified by voters. (A founding partner in that firm is Sean R. Malone, another veteran of O'Malley's legislative shop.)
Miller also noted that staff members, who work year-round, don't typically have other professions they would be able to turn to during a "wait out" period. Lawmakers in state's part-time General Assembly typically hold outside jobs.
"We have other vocations," Miller said. "When they [staff] lose that job, they have no other job to move on to."
Another defender of the status quo is former House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., now a stalwart on the Annapolis lobbying scene. The Western Maryland Democrat said that staff — no matter how powerful — simply do not develop the same bonds that lawmakers form among one another.
"The longer the legislator is there, the assumption is, the more clout or respect that legislator has among his colleagues," Taylor said. "I don't know that they have that amount of feeling for an outside staff member."
The issue is sure to be on the table in January — House GOP leader Del. Anthony O'Donnell said he will reintroduce legislation to extend the "cooling off" period to executive branch staff.
"There should be a reasonable period where you are not involved policy making," O'Donnell said. "A top level insider can go to a special interest lobby firm. People are skeptical enough of government. This kind of activity exacerbates it."