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Delegate Rudolph Reports From Annapolis
March 11, 2004
Annapolis - With the start of Maryland's legislative session, I want to provide a brief overview of Maryland's legislative process and offer a few tips for citizens on contacting their representatives.
For more than 350 years, the Maryland General Assembly has been a "citizen" legislature convening in Annapolis from across the state for the ninety-day legislative session. The 188 members of the General Assembly bring a varied background and wide range of experience to consider more than 2,300 bills - including the State's annual budget during the session. Each year the legislative session runs from the second Wednesday in January through mid-April.
One of the most important components of Maryland's legislative process is the work of the General Assembly's committees - as the fate of most legislative proposals is determined in committee. Public hearings are held on legislation before the committee to which the bill has been assigned, then the committees recommend to the General Assembly which legislation should pass and which should fail, or what amendments should be considered. A bill must pass both chambers (House and Senate) before being submitted to the Governor.
Through my internet home page, citizens can access the General Assembly site and stay informed of legislative issues during the session. Tracking bills is easy - you can see exactly what legislation has been introduced by searching the subject list and then find out when the bill will be heard, and whether it passed or failed. In addition, my home page includes a link to the Legislative Wrap-up, which is updated weekly and provides highlights major issues before the General Assembly.
Your voice is a valuable part of the legislative process. By writing, calling or e-mailing you can direct attention to a particular matter or issue which is of interest to you. Whenever contacting your representatives be sure and include your name, address, and a telephone number. To ensure a response it is important, even when contacting your representative by e-mail, to include your name and address.
Other suggestions include:
If you are not sure who your representatives are, you can contact the local election board or utilize the General Assembly Home Page feature, "Contact Your Legislators." By indicating your street address on the Look Up Form, you can easily obtain a listing of your state and federal representatives.
- It is helpful if you include the name or number of the bill (if you know it). With more than 2300 bills filed during the session this information, is extremely useful in determining the specific piece of legislation referenced.
- Personal experience counts. Knowing how a bill might impact an individual or families or Maryland's businesses is important.
- Timing. Remember session ends in mid-April.
I encourage all citizens to become informed and involved in our legislative process. You might even want to consider a day trip to Annapolis to observe session or committee hearings and visit with your state representatives.
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