ANNAPOLIS — The General Assembly has gone to the dogs. And the cownose rays. And the frogs.
Animal-related bills are proliferating this year among members of the Frederick County delegation:
- Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4, cuddled up with a beagle in a House office building early in the week to promote his bill which would require research facilities using dogs or cats for scientific research purposes to take steps to allow the animals to be adopted rather than killed;
- A bill from Sen. Ron Young, D-District 3, that will stop the cownose ray hunting tournaments in the Chesapeake Bay for the next two years is likely to be passed by the Senate on Monday night;
- Another bill from Young would allow public and nonpublic school students to refuse to participate in or observe course work that involves live or dead animals.
But that’s far from local lawmakers’ only work.
There are 2,597 measures pending in Annapolis this year, including 99 bills from Frederick County lawmakers.
This week, House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel County, announced that a measure from Delegate Karen Lewis Young, D-District 3A, is included in his legislative package aimed at strengthening Maryland’s middle class.
The bill — aimed at equaling the pay for men and women — would require companies with 15 or more employees to include salary information in job postings and narrow employers’ ability to ask applicants about their salary history.
The current spread of bills in Annapolis represents the bulk of measures that will be considered this year. Lawmakers typically rush to beat an informal filing deadline in their chambers that requires later-filed bills to go through an extra hurdle — approval from the standing Rules committees — before they can be referred for hearings. The Senate deadline was last week and the House deadline was Thursday.
Delegate William Folden was telling people to “move over” in more ways than one when he approached the House hopper shortly before it closed on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Among the stack of “Blue Backs” in his hand was a bill requiring slower motorists to travel in the right lane of highways. His introduction of the measure was cheered by someone near the House Clerk’s office as he discussed it.
A measure from Delegate David E. Vogt III, R-District 4, would increase the number of people in Maryland who would have to become familiar with terms like Blue Back (definition: the original copy of a filed bill; while House bills are indeed wrapped in bright blue paper, those in the Senate are actually cream colored). Vogt’s bill would limit the number of consecutive terms as either a senator or a delegate to which a person may be elected to three and limit the total number of terms as a member of the General Assembly to five, whether or not the terms are served consecutively.
Most of the bills introduced this year won’t make it through to final enactment, but many will.
To handle the tide of filed bills, committee rooms will get busier over the next month.
By March 14, the committees that hold hearings on bills must report their bills to the floor of each chamber.