Legislative scorecard
Score-keeping is one of the great political pastimes in Annapolis. Here are some of the session's winners and losers:

The winners
Parris N. Glendening
From gun locks to tobacco spending to budget priorities, the governor prevailed by using the full resources of his office.

Bishop Robinson
Thankful for adult supervision at the state's juvenile justice agency, legislators gave the new secretary free rein to run it without oversight.

Thomas V. Mike Miller
The Senate president snatched the governor's gun-safety bill from a balky committee and rammed it to approval. Senators responded by voting to give their new office building his name.

Johns Hopkins
The private medical institution won a state pledge for $150 million to pay for new buildings and faculty. The largess is part of Maryland's anti-cancer initiative.

Christopher J. Van Hollen
The up-and-coming senator from Montgomery seized the spotlight on guns and tobacco, boosting his chances for higher office.


The losers
National Rifle Association
The gun lobby's hissy-fit commercial only called attention to Glendening's victory.

Taxpayers
The billion-dollar surplus yielded nothing for income tax relief.

Republicans
See above. The GOP's loss is that the public isn't up in arms.

Environmentalists
They tried, but couldn't flush the septics bill out of a House committee.

Trial lawyers
The supposedly powerful lobby became a legislative punching bag on late fees, among other issues.


Mixed results
Unions
They prevailed on wages for school construction jobs, but couldn't get bargaining rights for university employees.

Martin O'Malley
His city got a good chunk of state aid, but the mayor could have used his honeymoon to better advantage.

Wrapping up its annual 90-day session last night, the General Assembly passed two broad child health measures - one requiring infants and toddlers to be tested for lead poisoning and another providing state-funded insurance for an additional 19,000 children.

Lawmakers also approved a plan designed to give public school teachers a 10 percent raise, passed a bill to cut Maryland's inheritance tax and agreed to create a state subsidy for airlines offering commuter service between Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Cumberland, Hagerstown and St. Mary's County.

One of last night's casualties was legislation aimed at clamping down on police use of race in making traffic stops. The proposal, which would have required police departments to keep statistics about their stops, got caught in a bitter battle among black lawmakers.

"It's a real tragedy for the black community that we lost such a promising bill that would have set a national standard," said Del. Howard P. Rawlings, the bill's chief sponsor.

Yesterday's action capped a session highlighted by the passage of a landmark gun-safety measure pushed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, which will require built-in locks on all handguns sold in the state beginning in 2003.

Before yesterday's final flurry, legislators had wrapped up work on the state's $19.5 billion operating budget for next year - a spending plan built lavishly on a $1 billion surplus.

Thanks to the surplus, lawmakers allocated money for an unprecedented building boom, a 4 percent raise for state employees and an 11 percent increase in funding for Maryland's higher education system.

The budget breaks new ground by including $6 million for textbooks for private schools - a provision approved over the protests of public school advocates and civil libertarians who objected to sending state money to religious schools.

Despite the state's enormous surplus, lawmakers opted not to approve any major tax breaks, concluding that the 10 percent income tax cut passed in 1997 and being phased in through 2002 would suffice.

The Assembly did pass one significant tax bill last night - to eliminate the state's levy on inheritances for some heirs.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. favored abolishing the tax, at an eventual cost to the state of about $50 million annually. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wanted a less costly alternative that would have eliminated the tax only for certain heirs - children, grandchildren, parents and spouses.

The final version will abolish the tax paid by those heirs, as well as siblings, but leave it in place for "collateral" heirs such as nieces and nephews.

Glendening supported a cut in the tax and helped broker the final deal during late negotiations with legislative leaders.

The tax bill, like all legislation, must be signed by the governor before it can become law.

Health measures

Responding to reports of widespread lead poisoning in some Baltimore neighborhoods, the Assembly passed major legislation requiring children in high-risk areas of the state to be tested when 12 and 24 months old.

Children often are poisoned by dust from flaking and peeling lead paint. The paint was widely used before it was banned in Baltimore in 1951, and nationwide in 1978.

Although federal health guidelines recommend lead screening, only a fraction of children at risk are now being tested. In Baltimore, about one-third of children under age 6 were tested in 1998, according to state records.