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Maryland Manual, 1991-92
Volume 185, Page 41   View pdf image (33K)
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The committee system is a vital part of the legis-
lative machinery. Rules of each house require that
every bill or joint resolution, with one exception, be
referred to a standing committee after first reading
(Senate Rule 33; House Rule 33). Bills having a
purely local impact are referred to select committees
composed of the local delegation or the local
Senators. The fate of most legislative proposals is
determined in committee. Committees are required
to hold a public hearing on each bill or joint resolu-
tion assigned to them. During session, the Depart-
ment of Legislative Reference publishes a weekly
hearing schedule so that those interested may testify
for or against proposed legislation. The Department
of Hscal Services prepares a fiscal analysis for each
bill and these fiscal notes are considered during
committee deliberations. At the committee hearing,
testimony is usually heard from the bill's sponsor and
other proponents and opponents of the bill. Tes-
timony and further consideration may result in
amendments to the bill made by the committee. The
final vote of the committee is recorded by member,
and may be favorable (with or without amendment),
unfavorable, or without recommendation. Having
been "voted out of committee," the bill now returns
to the floor of its chamber ofongin accompanied by
a report of committee action.
After consideration of committee amendments,
the bill is then open to amendment from the floor.
There, committee action may be reversed, although
this happens infrequently
Second reading is completed when the presiding
officer orders the bill, with any adopted amend-
ments, printed for third reading. No amendments
may be presented on third reading. In the chamber
of origin, a recorded vote is taken to pass or reject
the bill. To pass, the bill must receive a majority vote
of the elected membership.
The bill then passes over to the opposite cham-
ber, has its first reading, and is assigned to a com-
mittee for a hearing. The procedure followed is
identical with that of the chamber in which the bill
originated, except that amendments may be
proposed during second and third readings. If not
amended in the second chamber, final passage may
occur without reprinting.
If amended in the second chamber, the bill is
returned to the chamber of origin so that house may
consider the amendments. If the chamber of origin
votes to concur with the amendments, the bill is voted
on as amended and action is complete. The bill is


reprinted, or "enrolled", to include the added
amendments before being submitted to the Gover-
If the chamber of origin votes to reject the
amendments, the amending chamber may be asked
to withdraw its amendments. If it refuses, either
chamber may request that a conference committee
be appointed to resolve the differences between the
two chambers.
Appointed by the Senate President and the
House Speaker, a conference committee consists of
three members of each house. The committee
reports back to both chambers where its recommen-
dations are adopted or rejected without amend-
ment. If the report is adopted, the bill is voted upon
for final passage in each house. If the report is
rejected by either house, the bill fails.

All bills passed by the General Assembly become
law when signed by the Governor, or when passed
over the Governor's veto by three-fifths of the
membership of each house. According to the Con-
stitution, laws thus approved take effect on the first
day of June after the session in which they were
passed, except when a later date is specified in the
act, or the bill is declared an emergency measure,
Most bills now take effect July 1. Emergency bills,
passed by three-fifths of the total number of mem-
bers of each house, become law immediately upon
their approval by the Governor.

All bills, except the budget bill and constitutional
amendments, must be presented to the Governor
within twenty days following adjournment of a ses-
sion. The Governor may veto such bills within thirty
days after presentation. If the Governor does nor
veto a bill, it becomes law The budget bill, however,
becomes law upon its final passage and cannot be
vetoed. Constitutional amendments also cannot be
vetoed; they become law only upon their ratification
by the voters at the next general election.

The power to override a veto rests with the
General Assembly If the Governor vetoes a bill
during a regular session, the General Assembly
immediately considers the Governor's veto mes-
sage. If the Governor vetoes a bill presented after
the session, the veto message must be considered
immediately at the next regular or special session of
the legislature. The General Assembly may not
override a veto during the first year of a new legis-
lative term since the bill would have been passed by
the previous legislature (Const., Art. II, sec. 17). A
three-fifths vote of the elected membership of both
chambers is necessary to override a veto.


1 For additional information on the legislative process see Legislative Handbook Series, 9 vols.,
Department of Fiscal Services, Annapolis, 1990; Your Voice mAnnafiolis, Maryland General
Assembly, Annapolis, n.d.; "Constitution of Maryland" within the Constitutions Article of the

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Maryland Manual, 1991-92
Volume 185, Page 41   View pdf image (33K)
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