Legislators say it's time to re-address the 96-year-old issue
By MICHAEL FROST
ANNAPOLIS (Feb. 24, 2009)—Legislators called for Maryland to ratify the 17th Amendment Tuesday, almost 100 years after it became law.
"This basically is a bill about history," said Republican Minority Whip Nancy Jacobs, R-Cecil, who sponsored the resolution.
The 17th Amendment, which allowed the people to vote directly for their U.S. senators, was originally ratified in 1913, the same year Henry Ford introduced the world's first moving assembly line.
That year also saw the invention of the modern bra and zipper.
The original amendment was passed by Congress in 1912 and ratified the following year, when Connecticut's approval gave it the three-fourths majority that it needed to become law.
It stands as the only amendment to the U.S. Constitution that Maryland has not ratified.
Jacobs saw the resolution as a great civics lesson for Maryland's children. She sponsored it after hearing about the issue from her legal assistant, Brian Shuy, whom she described as a "history buff."
The bill subsequently gained the support of another history buff: Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert.
Jacobs explained to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee that Miller, "being a man of history like he is," had asked to be signed on as a sponsor.
With Miller's involvement, the testimony soon became a lesson about how prior to the 17th Amendment U.S. senators were chosen by state legislators.
"I'm sort of surprised that the (Senate) president would want to change that," said Sen. Roy Dyson, D-29th, vice chair of the committee.
Patric Enright, a retired federal employee from Anne Arundel County who testified on behalf of the bill, said in an interview afterward that the resolution is a great educational tool to "get (children) interested because it's all going to be theirs."
During the conversation, Enright pulled out a copy of the Constitution.
"I never leave home without it," he said.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.