With Maryland state lawmakers back in their districts, at their day jobs, or, after last week’s sprint to the finish, perhaps on a vacation, Democratic Gov. Wes Moore has hundreds of bills to consider. The first-year governor has already signed 93 of the over 800 sent to him by the General Assembly, and doesn’t get a formal say on the abortion referendum, which he supports, or a final say on the state budget, which he initiated. Moore will sign or veto bills through the end of May (any legislation he declines to act on becomes law).
From regulating recreational cannabis, to altering the selection process for the student member of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, to establishing the Black Bass Conservation Fund, here’s a breakdown of legislation passed during lawmakers’ 90-day session.
With a new governor, many new legislators and some consuming issues, lawmaking slowed slightly.
Discounting 2020, when the onset of the pandemic abruptly shifted the priorities of government and cut the session short, the 2023 session had the fewest number of bills and resolutions that cleared both the House of Delegates and state Senate since 2015, which began an era of divided government and featured even more new lawmakers (over a third of delegates and senators) than this year (about a quarter). As this year’s rookies and Moore settled in, the urgency and complexity of some top issues also may have limited other opportunities — with cannabis, for example, legislators essentially had three months to set up a new industry.
Bills and resolutions passed by House and Senate by year
More than 1 in 7 of the bills passed by both houses this year are about taxes, alcohol or cannabis, but the most common category deals with the business of state government.
Using file codes on the Maryland General Assembly website, The Baltimore Sun assigned a single topic to each bill for analysis. The file codes were condensed into broader topics, like education, which includes higher education, primary and secondary education; local bills; and bills the General Assembly identified as miscellaneous education, like bills relating to FAFSA or pre-kindergarten.
Some issues fall across multiple topics, like cannabis, which had bills passed relating to criminal law and economic development. The cannabis reform bill appeared under “Alcoholic Beverages” on the General Assembly’s website, a category a Baltimore Sun analysis renamed to include “cannabis” for clarity.
2023 bills passed by House and Senate by topic
Bills categorized state government were most common among legislation passing both houses; there were almost one and a half times more than the second most common topic.
The 102 bills categorized as State Government include subtopics like regulations and procedures, pensions and retirement, agencies, procurement and personnel. One bill in this category added a commemorative day to Maryland’s calendar. House Bill 1244, naming Jan. 27 as Maryland Holocaust Remembrance Day, was one of the first Moore signed into law last week.
One of this year’s most high-profile pieces of legislation, the Child Victims Act, or House Bill 1, which lets adults who were sexually abused in childhood sue their abusers, was joined by only a handful of other bills in its category of Civil Actions and Procedures.
Most frequent topics of 2023 bills passed by House and Senate
Who got their bills passed reflects Democrats’ supermajorities, but Republicans aren’t being shut out.
Even though Democrats have supermajorities in both the House and Senate — holding a little more than seven out of every 10 seats — dozens of Republican-sponsored bills passed. GOP lawmakers were primary sponsors on over 13% of bills passing both chambers, including 14 hunting and fishing bills. Democratic lawmakers were primary sponsors of nearly 70% and more than 16% were requested by committees, agencies or delegations representing specific areas or Moore, who requested 17 bills. All but 32 lawmakers were listed as a primary sponsor on at least one bill.
2023 bills passed by House and Senate by sponsor
In the chart below, each circle represents a lawmaker or entity that was listed as the primary sponsor on a bill. Blue circles indicate a Democratic lawmaker, red circles indicate a Republican lawmaker and gray circles indicate bills requested by committees, agencies, delegations or Moore.
Democratic Sen. Malcolm Augustine of Prince George’s County, who was newly elected as Senate president pro tempore this year, was the lawmaker with the highest number of bills that passed both chambers this session. Augustine sponsored 20 bills including including Senate Bill 3, which funds the 988 suicide and crisis hotline until 2025. This bill was also the first to pass the Senate this session.
Most frequent sponsors of 2023 bills passed by House and Senate
Explore the data yourself: Search all 810 measures passed during the General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session.
Tip: Search for “approved by the governor” (without the quotes) to view bills Gov. Moore has signed.