Legislation and Policy Analysis

 

A core function of the Department of Legislative Services (DLS), legislative bill drafting is a unique and often complex process that requires well-developed writing and analytical skills, considerable attention to detail, an understanding of how the codified statutes of Maryland are organized, and an awareness of federal and Maryland constitutional and legal restrictions that apply to or affect legislative drafting. Legislative bill drafting is generally handled through a select group of legally trained policy analysts in the Office of Policy Analysis that includes both legislation and committee analysts.

 

A central bill drafting office in the Legislative Services Building is maintained during the first several weeks of the annual session, although members are free to request bills any time of the year.  Requests are submitted by postal or electronic mail or by telephone.  Legislative bill drafting encompasses amendment drafting.  To provide the members and staff closer proximity to the legislative chambers for amendments to bills, a separate Amendment Office is maintained for the duration of the session in the State House.

 

The members of the General Assembly rely extensively on the drafting staff of the Office of Policy Analysis for their bills and amendments.  The rules of procedure require all bills and amendments submitted for introduction or consideration to be stamped as having been prepared or reviewed for content and form by DLS.  Requests for bills and amendments are considered confidential in nature by the Department of Legislative Services; they remain so until they are introduced by the sponsoring member.

 

The legislative drafting staff is organized so as to enable each staff member to focus on and develop expertise in major areas of legislative jurisdiction, such as health, transportation, taxation, environment, criminal law and procedure, and economic development.  In drafting legislation, policy analysts follow the guidelines set forth in the Legislative Drafting Manual.  The goal of the manual, published annually by the Department of Legislative Services, is to ensure the accuracy, clarity, and uniformity in the drafting of legislation in the State of Maryland.  Additionally, analysts depend on the Maryland Style Manual for Statutory Law for direction and guidance on rules for statutory drafting.  Draft legislation undergoes several levels of review by senior and managerial staff before being submitted to a bill preparation unit for proofreading and preparation.

 

For information on the history of legislative drafting in Maryland, please access the links below:

 

·         Origins of Legislative Drafting in Maryland

 

·         Historical Development of Legislative Bills in England

 

·         Maryland Constitution and the Full Power of the General Assembly to Legislate

 

·         Limits on the Legislative Powers of the General Assembly by the Declaration of Rights

 

·         Other Limitations on the General Assembly’s Legislative Authority

 

 

Publications:

 

            Legislative Drafting Manual    

 

            Maryland Style Manual for Statutory Law