For political junkies, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The 188 state representatives – 47 senators and 141 delegates – comprising the Maryland General Assembly convened Wednesday for the start of the state’s 425th legislative session – a 90-day affair that is set to adjourn on April 7.
To ring in the new legislative year, The Dagger brings you The Assembly Line – a unique feature that collects locally-sponsored legislation and presents it in a way that lets readers easily access and digest the information. Thanks to the work of our resident wizard Steve, The Assembly Line conveniently scrolls across the The Dagger’s front page and offers a place for supporters, critics and other interested readers to comment and discuss the bills and resolutions with one another.
The Assembly Line is updated several times a day with the newest legislation and the latest information on the status of the bills and resolutions. This is a chance to keep tabs on the local delegates and senators you sent to Annapolis and make sure they are working for you. Have fun while letting them have it!
Now back to Annapolis.
According to Josh, who was on-hand for the opening day of the session, Harford’s delegation is shaping up to be a pretty boring bunch without the presence of longtime colorful characters like Joanne Parrott, who lost her re-election bid in 2006.
In fact, if I can paraphrase what Josh told me, he said, “They’re like a bunch of turtles on a log. Really, you know how you see turtles all lined up on logs? That’s what they’re like.”
So, on that note, let’s line up our legislators and see what we’ve got:
Sen. Barry Glassman (R, northern Harford District 35)
Glassman has been chairman of Harford County’s delegation for the last few years and has run a pretty stable ship. He really hasn’t caught much heat for anything since he ruled that the three District 7 delegates, who represent parts of Baltimore and Harford, would only get 1/3 of a vote each on internal Harford County matters. They dubbed him ‘King Barry’ after that until he relented and gave them each a full vote among the Harford delegation.
Barry was rumored for years to have been interested in running for state senate and county executive, but waited patiently and found his district’s senate seat handed to him when Sen. Bob Hooper resigned in late December. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, but Glassman’s going to have to get a little harder to be a difference-maker in the state senate with the likes of notable blowhards such as E.J. Pipkin and Mike Miller.
Glassman WikiFact (facts pulled straight from Wikipedia) = “member of the American Sheep Council”
Sen. Andy Harris (R, western Baltimore/western Harford District 7)
Harris is a bright, Johns Hopkins University anesthesiologist, who is mired in a three-way race for the Republican nomination for the First Congressional District seat, currently held by nine-time incumbent Wayne Gilchrest. In my dealings with him, Harris has always had a good understanding of the issues, even if they only occasionally involved Harford County. Unfortunately, in a race pitted against the moderate Gilchrest and blustering state senator E.J. Pipkin, Harris has had to become ultra-GOP in an attempt to secure his party’s nomination. Don’t believe me? Check out this resolution he’s already introduced.
Harris WikiFact = “served in the Navy Medical Corps and the U.S. Naval Reserve as a Lt. Commander in active service during Operation Desert Storm”
Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R, southern Harford/western Cecil District 34)
Jacobs was king of the hill under the four-year rule of Gov. Bob Ehrlich as a close friend of his representing a county that voted overwhelmingly for the former congressman. She was even called ‘The Godfather’ locally because it was believed she had complete control over the Republican party in Harford County. But that all changed when Martin O’Malley booted Bob from the Governor’s Mansion.
Nancy is still a respected legislator, she won her last two elections in convincing fashion, but certainly doesn’t hold the kind of clout in Harford County or Annapolis as she once did. Nonetheless, she really does work doggedly for her constituents and I often found myself wondering “What the hell is she doing here?” when I discovered her attending one or another public meeting or event in some local backwater. I can remember calling Jacobs on her cellphone during senate voting sessions and listening, while she had me on hold, to her and Hooper discuss how they were going to vote. “Hoop, which is this one again?”
Jacobs WikiFact = “she began her career at WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Virginia. Several years later, she became the owner and operator of West Shore Indoor Tennis Club in Edgewoood”
Del. Rick Impallaria (R, eastern Baltimore/western Harford District 7)
True story. I was covering a Harford County zoning hearing about some sort of development in Joppatowne 5 or 6 years ago and this guy, who I immediately wrote off as the community dumb-ass (belligerent, red-faced, slovenly, possibly intoxicated), stood up and started ranting. It was Rick. Now, 5 or 6 years later, he’s looking and acting the same – and his constituents wouldn’t have it any other way. They love this guy and I can’t blame them. He might be the legislator who is the most truly representative of those he represents.
Anyway, the rest of Impallaria’s story is that in his younger days he crashed his car into his parents’ front porch trying to kill them, but was unsuccessful. “Everybody has stuff like this in their closet if you look hard enough,” Rick told me at the time. I laughed it off then, but considering his Middle River/Joppatowne constituency, I’m beginning to think he might have a point. As vice chairman of the Harford County delegation this time around, Impallaria is sure to keep things lively.
Impallaria WikiFact = “owned his own auto body shop in Middle River”
Del. Mary-Dulany James (D, southern Harford/western Cecil District 34A)
A minority in a Republican-dominated county and delegation for years, this should really be James’ coming out party. She has long been a powerhouse in the state Democratic party and with her friend O’Malley occupying the Governor’s Mansion, James is poised to truly make some noise, and legislative headway, in Annapolis the next few years.
James is now far and away the most experienced Harford delegate (don’t forget that her late father, William S. James was senate president) and she likely would have served as the group’s chair if the Republican-dominated bunch hadn’t settled on McComas and Impallaria as chair and vice chair. There has been talk for years about James following in her father’s footsteps and running for state senate and if she puts together a nice few years with the help of O’Malley, Sen. Nancy Jacobs might have to run a real re-election campaign for the first time in a long time.
James WikiFact = “earned a B.S. in psychology”
Del. J.B. Jennings (R, eastern Baltimore/western Harford District 7)
The unassuming Jennings is the quieter, gentler and probably more respected member of the three-headed District 7 monster. I remember when J.B. first was elected to the General Assembly in 2002. He had been a legislative aide for Ehrlich and was able to parlay that into getting the future governor’s name on some of his campaign signs. That caused a stink with some of the other candidates, but it was a politically savvy move any of them would have done in a heartbeat if they had the opportunity. Then I met Jennings in person and thought I must have accidentally set up an interview with his son – he’s a couple years older than me and looks a couple years younger than me.
Jennings has his work cut out for him sometimes being linked to the other two District 7 hooligans, but he’s made a nice name for himself so far as a delegate – particularly on environmental and agricultural issues.
Jennings WikiFact = “Jennings has been a beef farmer since 1992”
Del. Susan McComas (R, central Harford District 35B)
I will forever remember McComas as the little gray-haired lady who chose an unlikely campaign motto, which I still hear people shouting across parking lots to one another (McComas In the House!”), and who famously and inexplicably wore a fist-sized metal brontosaurus pin in one of her early publicity photo shots.
Susan had the misfortune of having to run in the new Bel Air area district that was carved out by Democratic Gov. Parris Glendening specifically for Democratic Bel Air Town Commissioner Dave Carey, but, fortunately for her, the Ehrlich groundswell swept nearly every Republican on the ticket into office in 2002. A former Bel Air Town Commissioner herself, McComas now has the experience to start getting things done in Annapolis, but she has a tough task ahead following in the footsteps of Glassman as chairperson of the Harford delegation.
McComas WikiFact = ” was file clerk for the Wyoming House of Representatives in 1977″
Del. Pat McDonough (R, eastern Baltimore/western Harford District 7)
I’m not sure where to start with guy, so I’ll begin by saying I actually really like McDonough. Sure, he may have hip-tossed an immigrant rights activist to the floor of the state house after a committee debate a couple years ago, he continually pushes for English to become the official language of Maryland and does all he can to take away the rights of ‘illegal aliens,’ but you can’t deny that the guy is out there fighting for his people. And what more can you ask for from your elected officials?
A local GOP radio show host, McDonough has the bulldog temperament and ill-fitting hairpiece seemingly required for the job. Pat is never one to shy away from a fight or, if not admit when he is wrong, at least admit when his opponents are right. I recall he actually publicly lauded O’Malley, before the Baltimore mayor was elected governor, for his actions to help halt the BG&E utility rate hike. Of course, now they’re back to being mortal enemies, but it showed McDonough can put party affiliation aside and ultimately has the best wishes of his constituents on his mind – regardless of how backward those wishes might be.
McDonough WikiFact = “Profession: entrepreneur”
Del. H. Wayne Norman (R, northern Harford District 35A)
A Republican Central Committee and Liquor Control Board member until he was recently appointed to fill the delegate seat vacated by Glassman, Norman can either represent the best or the worst of how our political system works nowadays. He’s a lawyer who has never been elected to an office higher than 1 out of 12 central committee members, who was able to work for his party long enough to get a pretty cushy appointment on the Liquor Board and line himself up for an even nicer job – a three-year term in the House of Delegates without ever having to raise one cent or campaign one minute.
The last time the Republican Central Committee appointed a delegate, Sheryl Davis-Kohl, the results were less than spectacular and she promptly lost her seat to a Democrat in the subsequent election. I’m hoping Norman learns from Davis-Kohl and earnestly applies himself to do more than get enough name recognition to have a chance to keep his job come 2010.
Norman WikiFact = While, sadly, there is no article yet for Norman, Wikipedia did offer the following five suggestions (in order) when I searched for his name: John Wayne filmography (1926-1940), List of World War II aces from United States, List of hurdlers, 1990 PGA Tour, List of people from Indiana.
Del. B. Dan Riley (D, southern Harford/western Cecil District 34A)
Aside from being somehow tangentially related to Aberdeen City Councilman Mike Hiob, Riley might best be known for his signature hat and stature. It used to be quite a sight, watching the hefty Riley, sporting an Indiana Jones-style leather hat, wave to passing motorists from the back of a rusty pickup truck parked in the median of an Edgewood road.
I remember vividly how Riley cried foul when he lost his seat in 2002. Apparently his 11th hour campaign propaghanda didn’t get mailed out on time and wasn’t delivered until after the election. I think he was working with Bel Air attorney Stu Robinson on some sort of a lawsuit, although whether it was against the U.S. Postal Service or Del. Chuck Boutin, the man who squeeze him out of office – I’m not sure. B. Dan should have a nice run with O’Malley in office, but got off to a strange start by offering up this head-scratching piece of legislation.
Riley WikiFact = “Born in London, England, February 16, 1946”
Del. Dave Rudolph (D, western Cecil District 34B)
Dave Rudolph has an enormous head. I’m not talking about his ego either. OK, cheap shots aside, Rudolph is a really good guy and after taking his hits during the Ehrlich/GOP years (a Democratic delegate from backwater Cecil County isn’t a good combination) he should be ready to get some work done for his people on the wrong side of the Susquehanna River.
Rudolph was really onto something the last couple years in trying to get the tolls moved, or at least some monetary relief, for those who traverse the bridges over the Susquehanna River. The issue gained some traction among both Democrats and Republicans and I hope Dave tackles it again this year.
Rudolph WikiFact = “David D. Rudolph is an American politician”
Del. Donna Stifler (R, northern Harford District 35A)
Of everyone on this list, I know the least about Donna Stifler. I know she surprised everyone in 2006 when she, as a complete unknown quantity, was able to get enough votes to knock longtime legislator Joanne Parrott out of elected office – perhaps for good.
Stifler’s focus seems to be on protecting children, which is admirable, but she’s got a long way to go if she’s ever going to achieve the legendary status of the woman she booted from office. She’s picked her issues, which is a good start, but she might need to add an oversized stuffed animal to artillery is she’s hoping to have a run half as long as Parrott’s.
Stifler WikiFact = “After college, Stifler was a pharmaceuticals sales representative and also a fifth grade teacher”