Winners and Losers
State House reporters Matt Mosk, John Wagner and Ann E. Marimow compiled their list of winners and losers in this year's General Assembly session. Check out the list and attach an comment on your own nominations.
Brian C. Denton: The public defender from Prince George's County stood nearly alone this session in working against a bill clamping down on paroled sex offenders. But with lawmakers stumbling over one another to toughen the legislation, the clock ran out on all the initiatives before the final version could reach the floor. Denton lobbied against the bill on behalf of the state Public Defender's Office, which had concerns about civil liberties and about proposals that it they argued would be costly and ineffective.
Organized labor: The unions showed they can still flex muscle inside State Circle, racking up victories on some high-profile issues -- including an override of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veto of the so-called Wal-Mart bill, which will effectively force the company to spend more on employee health benefits. Lawmakers also passed a bill boosting pensions for teachers and state employees (it awaits a decision by Ehrlich) and overrode the governor's vetoes of legislation to increase the minimum wage and expand collective bargaining rights.
Del. Peter Franchot (D-Montgomery). Around Annapolis, there's a joke that when it comes to Franchot, only the "t" is silent. But the ever-quotable delegate from Takoma Park showed restraint as he geared up for a primary battle in the comptroller's race against Maryland political legend William Donald Schaefer (D). Franchot even managed to sound statesmanlike after the 84-year-old incumbent was roundly denounced for ogling a 24-year-old Ehrlich aide during a public meeting.
Dr. John Gearhardt: One of the world's pioneering stem cell researchers, based at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, showed patience in relaying the intricacies of the science to legislators, some of whom struggled through high school biology. Check this space in a year to see how much of the $15.million in state funding will flow to the labs of Gearhardt and his colleagues.
Mayo A. Shattuck III, chairman of Constellation Energy Group. When the legislature balked at an electricity rate relief bill, it also dropped a package of legislation that would have put Constellation's $11.billion merger with a Florida power company in limbo. Now Shattuck gets to negotiate with a governor who was a merger cheerleader.
The University System of Maryland's Board of Regents. Even the women's basketball victory couldn't save these guys. After Chairman David H. Nevins and former governor Marvin Mandel came down to Annapolis to carry water for private interests, lawmakers passed legislation to put the clamps on any future fundraising by regents. The legislation will force at least two members -- Democratic state Senate hopeful James C. Rosapepe and Richard Hug, Ehrlich's campaign finance chairman -- to choose between their political activities and their board service.
Rosapepe gets an added mention for turning his political rival, Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr. (D-Prince George's), into a veritable celebrity after choking on a seafood platter in an Annapolis restaurant and running headlong into Giannetti, who performed the Heimlich maneuver.
Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D): After "oglegate," years of sometimes bizarre antics may finally be starting to resonate with the broader public.
The Public Service Commission: First came the news that Chairman Kenneth Schisler had exchanged cozy strategy e-mails with a power industry lobbyist. Later, there was the news that Commissioner Charles R. Boutin had used his state computer to engage in sexual conversations with a prostitute. All this as the legislature pushed (but ultimately failed) to pass a bill to fire the group that gave the thumbs-up to a 72.percent increase on electric bills from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
Sen. Gwendolyn T. Britt (D-Prince George's). The session opened with expectations that her profile would soar and that she would become Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's running mate in the governor's race. Duncan (D) then spent the session apparently looking elsewhere, with speculation now focused on Del. Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Stuart Simms, a former state's attorney in Baltimore.
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