Office of Policy Analysis

 

Legislation and Committee Support

 

Legislative drafting is one of the primary duties of the Office of Policy Analysis and is encompassed in the broad range of activities of the Legislation and Committee Support function of the office. Each year, legal policy analysts of the office draft, review, and prepare over 3,000 bills and over 2,500 amendments to bills. An experienced drafting staff is available to research, prepare, and discuss with legislators proposed legislation on a year-round basis, although the most active period of bill drafting occurs during the first four to six weeks of the annual session.

 

OPA staff also assists the General Assembly in its oversight of the Executive Branch. On behalf of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review, the statutory legislative committee that is responsible for the review of the State regulatory process, staff analyzes the legal sufficiency of and other issues relating to regulations proposed for adoption by Executive Branch agencies because regulations have the force and effect of law. Staff analysis and review helps insure that the agencies proposing the regulations are in compliance with statutory authority and legislative intent.

 

Another major function of the office is to provide professional staff support to the ten standing committees of the General Assembly. Policy analysts assigned to committees are responsible for a myriad of tasks with respect to the consideration of legislation assigned to those committees. These tasks include the close review and analysis of legislation to identify legal, constitutional, and policy issues; attendance of hearings and participation in voting and work sessions on the bills; drafting of amendments, floor reports, and informational and other documents to assist the chairmen and members of the committees during the course of the legislative process; maintaining effective communication and working relationships with other members of the General Assembly, staff, and participants in the legislative process; and being responsive and available to meet the needs of the chairmen and members in a hectic, fast-paced work environment.

 

Still another important function of the office is the preparation of the formal, ongoing, nonsubstantive bulk revision, reorganization, and restatement of the statutory laws of Maryland, structured along major subject areas, such as education, criminal law, business regulation, environment, natural resources, and so forth. In 1970, the State committed to this effort; the process should be completed by about 2012. As it has evolved over the years, the statutory revision effort is one of the most thorough and painstaking in the country, with a more logically organized and understandable body of law resulting from that effort. Legally trained staff analysts are assigned to research and produce drafts of revised law for review by an article review committee that is composed of attorneys selected for their expertise in the subject area encompassed by a proposed revised article. When the review of the revision work product is complete, it is submitted in legislative bill form for consideration and passage by the General Assembly.

 

OPA also assigns legal policy analysts to support a number of individual and regional delegations in the House of Delegates and the Senate. Delegations are composed of individuals elected to the General Assembly who represent a particular county or region of the State. Delegation staffing often involves the drafting and explaining of amendments, responding to information requests, understanding parliamentary procedural matters, and working with representatives of local governments.

 

Staff members who are assigned to the Legislation and Committee Support function also respond to requests from legislators for opinions and advice pertinent to legislation. They also participate in the staffing of statutory, special joint, and special legislative committees and task forces and study groups that are often jointly appointed by the presiding officers and the Governor. The staff reviews and summarizes bill review letters of the Attorney General's office as part of an ongoing effort to improve the legislative drafting effort. A more obscure but no less important duty is the preparation of annual supplements to the charters of municipal corporations as part of the legal review function of the office. Finally, the staff participates in the activities involved with the department's responsibility in the program evaluation Sunset Review of various Executive Branch regulatory boards, commissions, and agencies.