Sunday, November 06, 2005

How a bill becomes law

Larry Carson writes today about the local bills that Howard County would like the state General Assembly to approve.

Like an aging rock star's "Best of ..." album, the list of Howard County bills proposed for General Assembly approval in January - the last session of this four-year term - is peppered with the legislative version of oldies but goodies.

Love the lede, Larry. Sorry for the interruption. Now back to your regularly scheduled news story.

Seven of the 19 local bills scheduled for a hearing in Ellicott City Nov. 29 are repeats from last year.

The House delegation chairman, Del. Shane E. Pendergrass, a Democrat, said her plan is first to consider three local bills approved by the delegation last year, but which failed for various reasons to get full General Assembly approval.

Next might come six requests for state bond funding for local projects, "since they're pretty uncontroversial," she said. Then could come repeat bills defeated last year, and finally new measures.

"I'm trying to determine how to efficiently work through the job we have to do and make it convenient for citizens," she said.

I'm glad Del. Pendergrass is trying to make this process run more smoothly. I attended the hearing last year, and it was definitely a lot to get through in one night (I seem to recall having to miss most of a Terps basketball game, which was very unfortunate). Also, last year was memorable for the fact that the delegation and General Growth Vice President Dennis Miller almost came to blows, but that's a whole other story.

Back to this year's slate of bills, I quickly perused them and didn't see anything particularly noteworthy--at least aside from what Larry writes about (read the whole thing). The bill banning steel leg-hold traps is likely to generate a lot of testimony, and if past is prologue, almost all of this testimony will come from interest groups (hunters vs. animal-rights folks) located outside the county. To them I say, mind your own business.

To view the list of bills, visit the county's State Delegation website. I'm sure I'll write more about these bills as the hearing and General Assembly session near.

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