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[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]
Posted on December 28, 2000:
Ten days before George W. Bush is sworn in as our next president, the Maryland General Assembly will convene for the 2001 session.
So, from January 10 when we take our seats in the Senate and the House until we adjourn on April 9 (Sine Die), you will read quite a bit about legislation being introduced in Annapolis.
Last year, we were pleased to start the session knowing we had a massive budget surplus thanks to the rousing economy. Unfortunately, as is its wont, the economy is slowing down and while weíll have a budget surplus to work with again, it wonít be as large.
As far as legislative activity, I donít see a major change this session over last yearís. During the 2000 Session, the Senate introduced 919 bills and the House introduced 1,468. It is common for the House to introduce more bills simply because they have 94 more members than the Senate. Of those bills that were introduced last year, the governor signed 700 into law. That means 1,687 bills were rejected by Senate and House committees or one or both of the full bodies of the General Assembly or were vetoed by the governor. Last year, I either was the primary or co-sponsor of 50 bills, 18 of which passed.
The General Assembly runs on a very strict schedule for the obvious reasons that we are only in Annapolis for 90 days. The governor presents his State of the State address to Marylanders on Jan. 17. I encourage you to pay attention to this speech as it will give us all a better idea of what kind of financial situation we will face in the new year. The last day to introduce a Senate Bill to make sure it gets a committee hearing is Feb. 2, the 24th day of the Session. The House has until Feb. 9.
A bill I have introduced for the past five sessions is one I will once again sponsor this session. It is my bill to prohibit teen drivers from transporting passengers for 180 days after receiving their driverís license unless it is a family member. I also plan on vigorously supporting a measure to lower the limit a driver is deemed to be intoxicated from the current standard of .10 to .08. In addition to mounds of evidence showing that if this becomes law, numerous lives will be saved, we are also facing the prospect of losing valuable federal transportation funding. A bill signed into law by President Clinton earlier this year makes .08 the national legal level for a driver to be deemed intoxicated. The law also requires states that do not adapt that standard to do so or lose the federal funding. So, this is not only a life-saving bill, it is a fiscally sound one as well.
The first piece of legislation I will introduce is an oil pipeline inspection safety bill which would give the Maryland Public Service Commission more authority to inspect intrastate oil pipelines on a regular basis rather than have the already overburdened Office of Pipeline Safety of the National Transportation Safety Board continue with that responsibility. The feds have already shown support for my bill so I foresee no argument over jurisdiction between the federal government and Maryland.
Other issues of major concern to be considered this year include the shortage of nurses and teachers in Maryland. This is becoming a crisis situation and I expect some recommendations for both short and long-term solutions to emerge out of the 2001 General Assembly Session. These issues will come first before my committee, Economic and Environmental Affairs so I will report back any progress we make regarding the nursing and teaching shortages throughout the course of the General Assembly.
If you miss my bi-weekly letter to the editors of our local newspapers updating you on the goings on in the General Assembly, you can access all of my letters and press releases at: http://somd.com/news/dyson/.
As always, my office is always open to my constituents. We will be open in the Great Mills District Office Mondays throughout the session during normal working hours and in Annapolis Tuesdays through Fridays until April 9. We can be reached in the district office at (301) 994-2826 or in Annapolis at (800) 492-7122 (ext.3673). You can also e-mail us at: Roy_Dyson@senate.state.md.us or mail us in Great Mills: P.O. Box 229 Great Mills, MD 20634 or in Annapolis: 215 James Senate Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401.
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