A Lesson on Legislature: LFC 2016 Heads to Annapolis

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LFC Heads to Annapolis

I think most of us were taught that your “right to vote” is a big deal—don’t complain about how things are, if you don’t vote, right? Voting for who best represents you and your community and the country, is important. So, what happens to these Delegates and Senators after Election Day?

Leadership Frederick is all about opportunity, and our class had the incredible opportunity to visit Maryland’s State House in Annapolis where we found out about the legislative process; its complexity and impact. The day was quite amazing. Not to mention, we met and heard from some incredible leaders.

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The General Assembly & Our Representatives

The General Assembly for 2016 is represented by 47 Senators and 141 Delegates. This legislative body does more than discuss and draft bills and enact laws, they are also responsible for many other important legislative processes, including passing Maryland’s budget each year, proposing amendments to the constitution (these are those long questions that catch us off guard in the voting booth).

As our leader, Rick Weldon stressed: every important decision has to be made within the 90 day session from January to April every year—needless to say our elected are busy and we got to experience that.

We learned when a bill is presented the traditional first, second, and third reading process takes place. I was not surprised to learn that periodically a bill comes up knowing that it won’t become a law, but to intentionally bring about discussion among the representatives—this is good. If a bill passes the first reading process, it’s referred to one of many committees made up of members of the House and Senate. This assures that the subject matter and intention of a bill is thoroughly thought through, is aligned with the Constitution, and will work with the existing laws.

We had a sort of lunch-and-learn where we met and heard from many of our Delegates and Senators who talked about current issues and legislation they are focused on. We also had the unique opportunity to hear from Maryland’s Comptroller, Peter Franchot, who I thought had an excellent message for us and more broadly for the citizens of Maryland. We heard from an attorney from the Legislative Services Division who talked about his many years of experience with drafting the bills that become laws—it was fascinating.

Our own Delegate, William Folden, gave us a tour of the House Chambers and we got to stroll into the back chamber lounge, where all the real hot topic discussions and debates take place among the members. I could smell the cigar smoke from years gone by. I got the impression that visiting this room wasn’t on the agenda—all the more special for us.

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Truly, the most memorable time of the day for the class was the audience with Governor Larry Hogan—what a remarkable and personable man! And to get a photo opt with him, topped it off! A special thank you to our representatives who took the time to join us for lunch or who came out to speak to the class in the afternoon! This gave us a special opportunity to connect with them or just thank them for their service.

History in the Halls

Of course, what’s a visit to the State House without including some of the history. Did you know that our Maryland State House is the oldest State House still in continuous legislative use? Did you know it is also the only State House to serve as the Nation’s Capital (from November 1783 to August, 1784)?

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That bit of history gave me goosebumps—the building that we stood in played a very important role in the infancy of our Nation’s history. Not surprisingly, George Washington visited Maryland’s State House often. Not only did he spend time there, in the very room we stood in (the old chambers), George Washington came before Congress to resign his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the Treaty of Paris was ratified, marking the official end of the Revolutionary War! Not to mention, we were in awe of the many beautiful historic and quite large paintings that depict the historical events that took place in the State House over 200 years ago.

If you have not made a visit to the Maryland State House, I insist or at least strongly encourage you to do so, it will summon your inner political commentary or hopefully prompt involvement, if anything, in your community.

Photos: Brooke Anthony & The Governor’s Office

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