Recent graduate juggles legislative, business concerns


EASTON -- Some college graduates backpack across Europe or wait tables during the transition between school and work.

Ken Schisler served his third term in the Maryland General Assembly.

Unlike other members of his class who traveled or churned out resumes, the 23-year-old graduate went to the statehouse as Talbot County's delegate one month after his December graduation from Salisbury State University.

Mr. Schisler, who was elected in November 1990, said that he settled into the responsibility quickly and easily.

"That feeling of being in the real world hit me as soon as I got to Annapolis, even before I graduated," he said. "Once I became a legislator, school became secondary and I felt like I had a 9 to 5 job.

"I started to see school as something I needed to finish as soon as possible."

The day after the session closed last month, Mr. Schisler officially entered the working world and took a job with his father's wholesale food company, Chesapeake Distributing. In addition to some marketing duties, the company's taxes are now Mr. Schisler's responsibility.

After three years as a legislator, he can see state laws from the other side.

"I'm starting to understand what it is like for small businesses across the state," Mr. Schisler said. "I'm learning how it feels to work through the bureaucracy from this side."

Mr. Schisler studied biology and chemistry in college and said he'd like to have a job in science in the future.

But he already has put his degree to use in the House Environmental Matters Committee, where his experience helped him understand environmental issues and proposed legislation.

Although the General Assembly is not in session, the lawmakers will research new legislation or try to refine bills that were passed this year.

"I'm going to try to redefine the property rights debate," Mr. Schisler said.

Sen Frederick C. Malkus Jr., D-Mid-Shore, has tried the last few years to pass his private land rights legislation, but it has been defeated every time.

Mr. Schisler said the legislation is viewed as anti-environment by many and he will try to change the perception. "I think private property rights are essential to environmental protection," he said. "Man does not foul his own nest and people will take care of the land that belongs to them."

Mr. Schisler said he also will study the landmark health care package the General Assembly passed in April.

Legislators plan to refine the package next year, he said.

He will begin his campaign for the 1994 election this summer, but said he does not plan to make a career of politics.

"I think even the best legislators put out stale ideas after a while and I think that's defeating the purpose of the system. Democracy works best with the injection of fresh ideas."

As a teen-ager, Mr. Schisler spent his summers as a commercial crabber, and this year will be no exception.

"I'll be out crabbing every weekend and on holidays again this year," Mr. Schisler said. "It's a job, but I also do it because I really enjoy it."

Travel also is on his interim agenda. The delegate just returned from an environmental conference in Alabama and will visit Europe later this month.

Mr. Schisler was one of eight young political leaders chosen for a trip to Hungary and Poland from May 18 to 30.

The trip, sponsored by the American Council of Young Political Leaders, will give him a chance to meet with government and political leaders in the two countries.

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