By J.J, McQueen,
Special to the AFRO

The idea of learning about legislative bills can be intimidating, and for most individuals the judicial system and its processes are often studied in grade school, and seldom if ever revisited after high school graduation. Unfortunately, the concept of bills isn’t something that we can ignore the impact of. 

What are legislative bills? They are suggested ideas that eventually become proposals, and proposals that are reviewed and voted on. If the majority voters agree that the document introduced should be passed into law, it then because an official law once signed off on by the state’s Governor. This process can only happen under the authority of the elected officials in each state. 

When does this take place? There is an annual 90-day legislative session when the General Assembly comes together to review items that impact Marylanders. It’s the window of time where the matters of the general public can be heard and decided on. Understanding this process is important, because everyone should know what their elected officials are signing off on, on their behalf. The thought of this task can be overwhelming, especially for those that don’t have someone to walk them through the ‘cliff notes’, or the simple version of what laws, bills, and voting really means.  

Fortunately, with the advancements in digital technology, the state of Maryland has made finding and understanding this information easier to navigate. 

If you’re visiting the Maryland General Assembly website, there’s a Legislation tab. By clicking on this page you’ll be directed to two words in a list of 5, House and Senate. At the beginning of each bill there’s an abbreviation and a number, (SB) Senate Bill or (HB) House Bill, and depending on which bill that you are researching, you can find out the status on items that are being proposed across the state, and how they impact your community. 

It is essential to know what representatives are proposing, and what bills are impacting your area after each piece of legislation is voted into law. The main reason why you should have a general knowledge of how legislation works, is due to if your elected officials’ efforts aren’t getting laws passed that better your community, you should revisit who you should be voting for. 

How do you find additional tutorials about reading and understanding bills? 
Along with the video links located at the bottom of the Maryland General Assembly’s website, you can also contact your local the Black Caucus of Maryland’s office for further assistance.  

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