Be proac­tive leg­isla­tively

The Avenue News - - EDITORIAL - -Anna Re­nault, ave­newsanna@ya­

Now, per­haps more than at any other time that I can re­mem­ber, it is time to con­nect with and com­mu­ni­cate with those who have been elected to rep­re­sent us. Yes, this in­cludes our Con­gress­men who sit in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. mak­ing ma­jor decisions on var­i­ous life is­sues from health care to fil­ing taxes to where and how we can live.

Leg­isla­tive bills are sub­mit­ted on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. How­ever, the ti­tle and the fo­cus of that leg­isla­tive bill may hide many other things thrown into the mid­dle of the mix. This has hap­pened nu­mer­ous times over the course of his­tory. It is a ploy Con- gress uses even to­day. So while the bill may be about cut­ting taxes, there could be a pro­vi­sion hid­den on page 357 of the 479 page doc­u­ment that ad­dresses health care; or per­haps they slipped some­thing in there to re­strict im­mi­gra­tion. There is no way to know what lit­tle bits of other po­lit­i­cal hot-po­ta­toes have been thrown into the mix un­til some­one has time to sit down and read the en­tire 479 pages in­clud­ing all the hand­writ­ten and crossed-out items from the orig­i­nal bill.

With that said about our folks play­ing games with our money in D.C., now is the time to also con- tact your state leg­isla­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The next Mary­land General Assem­bly ses­sion will open in Jan­uary with 47 sen­a­tors and 141 del­e­gates to rep­re­sent the cit­i­zens of Mary­land. Leg­is­la­tors are busy now draft­ing bills they plan to sub­mit when the ses­sion opens. Rou­tinely, there are over 1,000 bills sub­mit­ted for con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing each ses­sion. We should ex­pect the same to oc­cur when the leg­is­la­ture opens on Jan­uary 10, 2018 at 12 noon.

Bills at the state level are as­signed to spe­cific com­mit­tees, de­pend­ing on their top­ics. Com­mit­tee hear- ings and tes­ti­mony from the general pub­lic will be heard be­fore com­mit­tee votes are taken. Some bills will fail based on the com­mit­tee’s vote and the bill will be con­sid­ered dead. How­ever, many bills will pass on to other com­mit­tees and hun­dreds of bills will move for­ward to the floor of the House or Sen­ate. Both cham­bers of the leg­is­la­ture must pass the bill be­fore it is sent to the gov­er­nor’s desk for his ap­proval or veto. It can take a bill just a few weeks to get “passed” while oth­ers may take from day one to the close of ses­sion on April 9.

Our Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil has a sim­i­lar process. Coun­cil mem­bers draft bills. Hear­ings are held. The Coun­cil votes and bills pass to the County Ex­ec­u­tive for his fi­nal de­ci­sion – pass or veto.

Now is the time for all good cit­i­zens to know what they want, what they ex­pect and what they hope their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive will pro­vide to us, the peo­ple! Many peo­ple sit and com­plain be­cause they don’t get what they want. Did you tell them what that is? They are not mind read­ers. And no, not all votes go our way but we still must speak up…NOW!

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