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Legislation – State

Maryland General Assembly

The Office of People’s Counsel (OPC) is the voice of Maryland residential utility consumers before the Maryland Legislature. During each legislative session, OPC reviews all bills that impact residential electricity, natural gas, telephone and private water customers. OPC presents testimony on many of these bills during Committee bill hearings, participates in Committee Work Groups, and works with members of the General Assembly and interested stakeholders. Since OPC is an independent agency, that only represents the residential utility consumer; we present positions independently from Maryland Executive Agencies and the Administration.

The Maryland General Assembly has 47 members in the Senate and 141 members in the House of Delegates, from 47 Maryland legislative districts. The legislature has a 90 day session, beginning the second Wednesday of January, and ending the second Monday of April (known as “Sine Die”).

Ideas for legislation can come from legislators, citizens, organizations, businesses and the Governor. When a legislator decides to sponsor legislation, a bill is drafted by legislative staff to begin the legislative process.  Executive agencies and the Administration may wish to introduce bills.  In the case of the Governor, the bill will be sponsored by the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate “at the request of the Administration.”

Bills begin in the House or Senate; versions are frequently crossed filed in both chambers. After a “first reading” in the House or Senate, the bill is assigned to a Standing Committee.  The Standing Committees chairman will schedule hearing to take testimony. Any person can sign up to present testimony during the hearing and/or submit written testimony. The full House or Senate generally will give serious consideration to the favorable vote of a Committee when a bill is up for a vote. Bills must receive a favorable vote in both Senate and House before it is sent to the Governor. However, an unfavorable vote by a Committee signals the death of a bill for that legislative session.

The Senate Finance Committee and the House Economic Matters Committee consider most of the energy and telecommunications bills. In addition, the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and the House Environmental Matters Committee consider environmental bills, including bills that may relate to utility or energy issues.

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