SENATE OF MARYLAND
ANNAPOLIS. MARYLAND 214O1-1991
August 9, 1996
You may think that just because we are in the dog days of summer that there's little
going on in the legislative arena. We are about at the midway point of the nine-month
period of time in which the legislature is not in session. But it's really not too early to be
think about the 1997 Maryland General Assembly session.
Even though we are in the middle of the summer, many legislative committees are now
busy at work reviewing proposals which were submitted during the past session but
held over for further study. They are also grappling with some issues which are sure to
be on the legislative agenda come January.
Most committees also conduct tours of areas pertinent to their work. My Economic
and Environmental Affairs Committee, which visited St. Mary's and Calvert last year,
will be looking at the Port of Baltimore and going to the lower Eastern Shore this year.
We are also only several months away from the deadline for pre-filing a bill. Pre-filed
bills get the first crack at the legislative process and thus get a better chance of passing
if they have merit. It's always a good idea to pre-file a bill if the information necessary to
draft it is ready in time. That's a good reason why we like to review bill ideas as early as
There is another deadline which is looming even larger. The St. Mary's County
Commissioners have set the close of business this Friday, August 16th as the deadline
for submission of legislative proposals to be included in the so-called "legislative
package" which will ultimately be submitted to the county legislative delegation. There
will be a public meeting to present the draft legislative package on September 28th at 7
p.m. at the Carter State Office Building in Leonardtown.
Calvert County has a slightly less formal process. The commissioners office says
sometime in late September is usually considered the deadline for such submissions.
The public hearing on the legislative package will be held by the League of Women
Voters sometime in November.
In both counties any citizen can submit a legislative proposal. The ideas will be passed
on to us along with the commissioners' own recommendations on each item. The
commissioners and their departments, of course, can also submit their own legislative
proposals. In fact I suspect that was the original idea behind the legislative packages
and it was expanded as s citizens showed an interest in being part of that process.
Keep in mind though that going through the county commissioners' process is not the
only way to bring matters to the attention of legislators. The process is very open. My
office is constantly receiving suggestions for proposed legislation. We keep all of that
information on file and before each session review it and make a decision whether or
not to introduce bills.
I believe we introduce too much legislation, and as a matter of fact supported a bill last
year which would have limited the number of bills any legislator can submit in any given
year. But I am not reluctant to submit a bill which I think is a good idea.
One hot topic currently being reviewed in St. Mary's County is the existing state ban of
pagers on school properties. There's a school system committee currently reviewing the
law looking towards making suggestions. We hope that the committee gives this
important topic due consideration. They don't need to feel the pressure of making a
decision to meet the county commissioners deadline, although if they can meet it that's
fine. As soon as they come up with their recommendations they can forward them
directly to the legislative delegation for consideration.
Such is the case with any idea that you or a group you belong to may have. Some
people think the only way to get a legislator's attention is to hire a lobbyist. Nothing
could to farther from the truth, at least as far as I am concerned. I would much rather
get an idea from an individual constituent than from a high-paid lobbyist who doesn't
even live in my district.
I hope you don't infer by what I've written so far that I don't like or appreciate the
county commissioner legislative package system in Calvert and St. Mary's counties. I
think it is wonderful that they have set up a mechanism to review ideas and present their
recommendations. I highly value their opinions and try whenever feasible to follow their
I just don't want you, my constituents, to feel bound by that system. Feel free to contact
me at any time with any idea you have for legislation. I can assure you that everyone's
opinion is valued. Please write about legislative issues to my district office at P.O. Box
229, Great Mills, MD 20634 or you can call that office at 301-994-2826 or my
Annapolis office on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 1-800-492-7122, extension