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Editorial: Join in statewide discussions

Discussions and debates about various bills always intensify as the state legislature works through the final half of its annual 90-day session and now is the time when our state lawmakers need to hear from us about which proposals we like and which we oppose.

On Tuesday night, our state senators held a public meeting on the governor's proposed gun laws. The event was well-attended by those opposing the provisions in Gov. Martin O'Malley's Firearm Safety At of 2013, and the meeting gave residents an opportunity to voice their opinions.

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Typically our state legislators will make the rounds prior to the session to get input from various groups or special interest organizations. Famers, business owners, health care workers and others have an opportunity to ask legislators to support or oppose specific legislation, and state lawmakers use the information they collect when they go to Annapolis.

There usually aren't many opportunities during the legislative session for people to have such direct contact with their state representatives, so it was good that the senators took the time to schedule the meeting and provide them with additional information that they can take back to Annapolis as the Senate this week debates O'Malley's proposed gun laws.

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In future years, our state lawmakers may want to consider holding more meetings throughout the legislative session where they can talk to residents about proposed legislation and get feedback as new issues emerge.

Residents also need to do their part though. A good crowd came out to Tuesday's meeting. Regardless of where you stand on a given issue, taking the time to participate in a meeting and voicing your opinion are hallmarks of what makes our system of government work.

People can also easily go online to the Maryland legislature's webpage and look up their own senators and delegates by name. There, they will find bills that their lawmaker has sponsored or co-sponsored, and they can track the progress - or lack of progress - of the bills that are before the legislature.

Most senators and delegates also offer some form of email list that residents can sign up for to receive updates on what is going on in Annapolis.

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Carroll's delegation being all Republican is often cited as a detriment to us because of the Democratic-dominated legislature. But that just makes it all the more important for residents to use all the tools at their disposal to get our voices heard.

The legislature is in the final half of its 90-day session, and actions on many bills will begin heating up. Take the time to find out what your representative is supporting or opposing, and add your voice to the discussion on where the state is heading.

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