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As session's midpoint nears, Harford delegates and senators say they are keeping busy [Commentary]

The 438th Session of the Maryland General Assembly kicked off on Jan. 10 and ends on April 9, 2018.

As we are nearing the half-way point of the 90 days, we wanted to write to you about what exactly we have been doing the last 44 days.

The Harford County delegation consists of eight delegates out of the 141 elected representatives charged with shaping the laws of Maryland. We often work closely with the three Harford County senators, however they vote separately from the delegates.

Your delegation has been actively working to protect the interests of all Harford County residents. Sometimes that means we introduce bills as a response to the needs of our constituency or attempt to block legislation that would negatively affect our citizens.

The members of the Harford County delegation meet together at least once a week to discuss the impact that proposed legislation would have on the community. We listen to your feedback and incorporate the personal opinions of our constituents to fully understand the local impact.

It is so important for the delegation to hear from you. This allows us to do our jobs in an effective manner to better serve the people of Harford County and Maryland. Many of our members introduce legislation that pertains to your issues and needs.

Each of our members serves on a committee according to their strengths and interests. After a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee for further review and to make recommendations to the General Assembly.

In the Maryland Senate, Sen. J.B. Jennings serves on the Finance Committee, and Sens. Robert Cassilly and Wayne Norman serve on the Judicial Proceedings Committee. In the House of Delegates, Del. Teresa Reilly serves on the Ways and Means Committee, Del. Andrew Cassilly serves on the Environment and Transportation Committee, Dels. Susan McComas and Glen Glass serve on the Judiciary Committee, Dels. Rick Impallaria and Mary Ann Lisanti serve on the Economic Matters Committee, and Dels. Kathy Szeliga and Pat McDonough serve on the Health and Government Operations Committee.

If a bill is recommended by the specific committee, it is then sent to the appropriate chamber for discussion and possible amendments. In order to pass as a law, it must be passed by a majority of the elected membership. In March, there is the cross-over period in which the bills from one Chamber are sent to the other Chamber for similar handling. This session, we are considering over 3,000 different pieces of legislation and it all has to happen in the 90 days prescribed by law.

The process is intended to be transparent. You can easily check the progress of any piece of legislation by going on our website: Bills are all given a title HB (House Bill) or SB (Senate Bill) followed by a number. They are given different classifications based on the topic of the legislation, making it easy for you to search a variety of bills under one issue. The bills can also be cross-filed, meaning there is a corresponding House or Senate bill in each chamber. You can listen to many of the committee meetings and the Senate or House sessions on the website as well.

If you are interested in a tour of the Maryland Government complex, you can contact the office of Del. Teresa Reilly, Delegation Chair, and we will help you arrange that. The district you live in also hosts a district night in Annapolis that you can attend. Many times these district nights give you the chance to meet with your delegates and senator and tour the State House as well.

The Harford County delegation meets regularly on Thursdays at 9 a.m. in room 302 of the Lowe House Office Building throughout the regular session. Our meetings are open to the public and we love to see our constituents in Annapolis! We represent you, the citizens of Harford County, and your well-being is what we keep in mind every day while we are working to protect your interests.

The Harford County Delegation

Del. Teresa Reilly, chair

Del. Andrew Cassilly, vice chair

Dels. Glen Glass, Rick Impallaria, Mary Ann Lisanti, Susan McComas, Pat McDonough and Kathy Szeliga

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