ANNAPOLIS – With the General Assembly’s 90-day cutoff barely two weeks away and the fate of hundreds of bills still undecided – including the state’s $19.5 billion budget – Sen. Barbara Hoffman, D-Baltimore, is facing a deadline of her own.
Hoffman’s daughter-in-law, who is in Israel, is expecting a baby any day and Hoffman plans to be there for a “religious ceremony” one week after the birth.
There’s just one problem: the legislative session probably won’t be finished when she departs on the four-day trip.
Back in Annapolis, a lot could happen in the four days, with legislators frantically trying to pass or kill the 2,381 bills and resolutions introduced this year.
Fortunately for Hoffman, the biggest open item on her plate – the state’s massive 2001 operating budget – seems well in hand.
As chairwoman for the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee, Hoffman is already working with other legislators to speed the delivery of a compromise budget to both chambers before April 3.
If they fail to make peace by that date, the governor will issue an executive order to extend the session past the April 10 deadline – just in case the budget puzzle can’t be solved in time, according to the governor’s office.
But Hoffman is confident the budget will be complete before April 3, near the time she’ll probably have to leave.
“There are not that many differences” between the two budgets this year, she said.
Even with the budget finalized, Hoffman could still miss voting on the 65 bills that she introduced or co-sponsored in the Legislature – bills that could affect her Baltimore constituents.
“When you’re elected to office,” said Peter Dubyoski, a Republican Central Committee member from Baltimore, “that comes first. Your responsibility is to the public.”
But sometimes lawmaking can pale in comparison to the sight of a bright new life.
Nina Cardin of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, said Jewish birth rituals are profound community experiences best viewed in person.
“You shall live to see your children’s children,” Cardin said, quoting an ancient adage. “There ain’t nothing better than that.”
Hoffman refused to delve further into the details of the trip, afraid that she’d already said too much about the baby – possibly a preemptive “kain ein horeh,” a Yiddish expression that means to ward off the evil eye.
“I’m superstitious,” she said, “It’s bad luck.”