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baltimoresun.com

By David Nitkin and Andrew A. Green

Temptation surrounded veto voting

Gossip: One legislator chronicled offers made in Annapolis in exchange for upholding the governor's veto of the medical malpractice bill.

Political Game

January 18, 2005

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LAWMAKERS say the governor offered all kinds of goodies in a last-minute (and nearly successful) lobbying effort to persuade members of the House of Delegates to sustain his veto of a medical malpractice bill last week.

Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat, chronicled the effort in a diary he keeps and distributes electronically.

"Lots of gossip, hearsay, and even statements by the people involved about how the Governor will reward his friends and do otherwise unto his enemies in the wake of the medical malpractice override," Rosenberg wrote.

"The coin of the realm for members who voted with him is construction money for public schools in their district. There's ample precedent for this. Quite a few road construction projects became worthier in Governor Glendening's estimation after certain members voted for Ravens Stadium.

"Speaking of travel, at least one member was offered a free ride - no Republican opponent, in November 2006. The offer was spurned." Rosenberg would not say who the member was.

Rosenberg wound up being the decisive 85th vote to overturn the veto, returning from Israel and rushing from the Newark airport to get to Annapolis.

But if he had been delayed, there would have been a few other choices. Baltimore Del. Jill P. Carter was lobbied heavily by both sides. She decided not to vote yes or no, which is technically not allowed because House rules say lawmakers are supposed to vote on all bills when they are present.

Then there was Del. Hattie N. Harrison, who missed the special session and has not yet attended the regular session. Harrison, 76, is recovering after surgery for a pinched nerve. The operation was Dec. 28, the first day of the special session, said Bruce Bereano, a lobbyist who is close to the delegate.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said there was talk last week that Harrison would be summoned from her rehabilitation bed to cast a vote on the malpractice override. But House Speaker Michael E. Busch said he never seriously considered asking Harrison to come to Annapolis. "I would have had an 85th vote," he said.

Ehrlich loses outlet for talks on radio

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is losing another radio outlet for his casual banter.

First he gave up his regular slot on WBAL's Ron Smith Show when the station decided it should switch hosts because the Ehrlich administration hired Smith's wife for a public relations job. Ehrlich refused to do the show with another host, so his segment was canceled. (He still calls in regularly.)

The governor then became a fixture on The Sports Junkies show on WHFS, making football picks and trading quips. But WHFS changed its rock format last week and became El Zol, a Spanish-language station.

Lawmakers are rated on attendance record

A new group called the Maryland Accountability Project has compiled a scorecard of lawmakers with the best and worst attendance records, as measured by floor votes during last year's legislative session.

The group gave "Lighthouse Awards" to 12 lawmakers with perfect attendance: Republican Dels. John W.E. Cluster Jr. of Baltimore County, Donald H. Dwyer Jr. of Anne Arundel County, J.B. Jennings of Baltimore and Harford counties, and Michael D. Smigiel Sr. of Cecil County; Democratic Dels. Anne R. Kaiser of Montgomery County, Carolyn J. Krysiak of Baltimore, and Susan C. Lee of Montgomery County; Republican Sen. E.J. Pipkin of the Eastern Shore; and Democratic Sens. Gwendolyn T. Britt of Prince George's, James Brochin of Baltimore County; Sharon M. Grosfeld of Montgomery County and Philip C. Jimeno of Anne Arundel County.

"Crabbie Awards" went to those with the worst attendance records. Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks, a Baltimore Democrat, led the pack with 207 missed votes. Del. Justin D. Ross, a Prince George's Democrat, missed 145 votes, and Sen. Nathaniel Exum, also a Prince George's Democrat, missed 107. Baltimore Democratic Del. Tony E. Fulton did not vote 89 times; he has been ill. Republican Del. Patrick L. McDonough of Baltimore County missed 86 votes.

Lobbyists get reprieve on giving up privilege

Despite a rainy opening week, no shiny loafers were ruined by the Department of General Services' decision not to give lobbyists new state IDs for the General Assembly session, a plan that eventually will force them to stand in line outside state buildings and go through security like the hoi polloi.

Anne Hubbard of DGS said lobbyists may keep using their current IDs, for which they each paid $7.50, until they expire.