Assembly returns -- for about 24 hours


Lawmakers are back -- briefly Aside from dodging out-of-season legislators talking on cell phones around the State House, Annapolitans can expect a few other slight changes in their summer routines as the General Assembly meets in special session today on the issue of electricity rates.

The preliminaries started with a few committees meeting yesterday, and the full session takes place today for all 188 members of the General Assembly, with legislative leaders hoping to adjourn tonight or tomorrow.

Drivers already have found the going to be a bit slower on Rowe Boulevard and around the legislative offices downtown, said Annapolis Transportation Department Director Danielle Matland.

"There will be some increase in traffic, but I don't think there will be anything dramatic," Matland said. "I was driving around [yesterday], and it didn't look that dramatic."

The Department of Public Works expects more traffic in the city, but it will not be changing traffic patterns, said Ray Weaver, a city spokesman.

"They're basically treating this like a heavy tourist day," Weaver said.

Offering some relief to added demand for scarce Annapolis parking is a shuttle that legislators can take from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Matland said.

Downtown Annapolis might be a bit more crowded today for pedestrians as well, said Dave Humphrey, director of external affairs for the Maryland Department of General Services. Residents and visitors might find their favorite downtown restaurants a little busier than usual around mealtimes, Humphrey added.

"You would think that when you bring 188 lawmakers and their staff to the State House, they have to have some place to eat," Humphrey said.

Many restaurants on Main Street had yet to see a crush of new business during lunch hour yesterday, with servers and managers still waiting to see whether crowds might increase when the rest of the lawmakers arrive today.

"It would be nice, but I can't predict that," said Trent O'Connor, a bartender at O'Brien's Oyster Bar and Restaurant.

Alan R. Friedman, director of legislative relations for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., speculated that many legislators were too crunched for time for a sit-down lunch yesterday.

"They might be getting takeout," said Friedman, as he and some other Ehrlich administration officials sat at a table in ACME Bar & Grill on Main Street.

Overall, officials predict the impact of the special session on the city will be the same as - or perhaps less than - that of the regular winter session.

"Everyone who lives here already knows about it," Matland said.

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