Cumberland Times-News

November 6, 2013

Better focus

Legislative workload should be streamlined

Cumberland Times-News

— We like Maryland Senate President Mike Miller’s idea of shifting some of the legislative workload to the early weeks of the legislature’s 90-day annual session. But we would go a step further and ask the General Assembly to put a limit on the number of bills a lawmaker can introduce.

The news organization said Miller hopes that the governor’s office and state agency leaders will work to ensure their bills are introduced before the session begins, as opposed to waiting until later in session. Many of the bills coming from the administration make sweeping policy changes.

“We respect and appreciate the fact that we are part-time General Assembly,” Miller said. “We need to make each of those workdays productive. We’re battling against human nature, which for most people means putting off issues that could be dealt with today.”

Miller wants members of the Senate to request bill drafting by Nov. 15 for any bills they would like to file before the start of the session. He is also calling for more bills to be sent to the Senate Rules Committee if they are not introduced in a timely fashion — a move which could slow or stop a bill from getting a hearing.

Anyone familiar with the workings of the General Assembly knows that the first several weeks of the session are slow-paced and without a lot of activity in the committees or on the floor of the House and Senate. As the weeks dwindle away, the State House becomes a mad house as lawmakers scramble to hold hearings and move legislation along.

From our perspective, there are too many bills introduced. Some of them clearly have no chance of passage, and others border on being downright silly. Why not limit the number of bills an individual legislator can introduce and save time and a lot of money being spent in Annapolis?

Spreading out the workload and dispensing with meaningless legislation can let lawmakers focus on those issues and problems that are really important to Marylanders.