With the second week of the legislative session underway, District 44B Dels. Charles Sydnor III and Pat Young are settling into their new roles as representatives in Annapolis.
The Catonsville residents, two of 58 new delegates who began their terms Jan. 14, both say the transition to the State House has been an exciting one.
"There is so much information that is coming our way within the past two weeks," said Sydnor, 40, a senior attorney for Enterprise Community Partners in Columbia. "I'm still figuring out how to get around, how to get things processed, how to be a good representative."
Young, coordinator of veterans services at Towson University, said that like every new job, there is a learning curve.
"Everybody says 'Relax, you're going to get it.'" Young said. "But you want to do well — for you and the people that elected you."
The two Democrats, who share an office in the House of Delegates building, say striking a balance between building relationships while keeping up with bills being introduced has been a challenge.
"[House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch] said he wanted the freshmen to get to know one another, to start building relationships and let people know one another, because you're going to be building those relationships to help the agenda you have set forth to address on your campaign," Sydnor said.
Sydnor has been appointed to the Judiciary Committee, which considers legislation tied to judicial administration and court structure including administrative law, correctional facilities and procedures, family law, juvenile justice, the legal profession.
Sydnor said he anticipates "interesting" bills to be introduced this year related to criminal justice, in light of heightened racial tension between citizens and police across the nation.
That became clear during the first time the committee met, Sydnor said.
"We were met with protesters right outside our committee room who were advocates for a number of law enforcement changes," Sydnor said referencing a group who protested police brutality on Martin Luther King Jr. Day before the committee.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has outlined police accountability and the over-militarization of police in their state legislative priorities, according to its website.
"That issue is not going away," Sydnor said. "I encourage anyone who wants, to have their say."
Young has been assigned to the Appropriations Committee, which handles state and operating budgets, bond authorizations, collective bargaining, fiscal procedures, higher education institutions, state and local agency procedures and programs, state personnel and pension matters, in addition to social services.
"The budget came out today," Young said last Friday. "I'm reading the language. There is some new lingo to get used to."
As supporters of the proposed Red Line light rail project which lies in their district, both expressed relief that the project had been included in the budget, along with the Purple Line in Washington, D.C.
The Red Line project would connect portions of their district, which stretches from Woodlawn to Lochearn to Catonsville, with the city.
"We're happy that they're not cutting it," Young said. "But it's something we'll have to watch."
The legislators said they expect to work long hours in the months ahead.
"A lobbyist down in Annapolis told me that the Appropriations Committee and the Judiciary Committee are historically the hardest working committees in the legislature," Sydnor said. "So you have two of the representatives from this district working hard on committees in Annapolis."
Young took a 90 day unpaid leave of absence to adjust to the new position. State delegates are paid a salary of $45,207, which is listed in the legislative personnel handbook.
"I miss working with the vets," said Young, a Marine Corps war veteran. "I enjoy working at Towson. It's rewarding working with those folks."
Sydnor said he plans to continue to work as an attorney during the session.
"Whereas at Enterprise before, it was never that I worked weekends. But I'm doing my assignments, so it's a lot of weekend work and later evenings," said Sydnor, who has three daughters.
Both said the change of routine is an adjustment, but one that is welcome.
"I took the 90-day leave of absence so that I could focus on representing the district, so I didn't have to think about two things," Young said.