Maryland Manual On-Line

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

DEPARTMENT OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


[photo, Thurgood Marshall statue at Legislative Services Building entrance, Lawyers Mall, Annapolis, Maryland] The Department of Legislative Services was created in 1997 (Chapters 635 and 636, Acts of 1997). Its origins, however, trace to the formation of the Department of Legislative Reference in 1906 and the Department of Fiscal Services in 1947.

Thurgood Marshall statue at Legislative Services Building entrance, Lawyers Mall, Annapolis, Maryland, October 2003. Photo by Diane F. Evartt


Department of Legislative Reference. The Department of Legislative Reference originally was created in 1906 to serve the Baltimore City Council (Chapter 565, Acts of 1906). In 1916, that department also began assisting the General Assembly (Chapter 474, Acts of 1916). The State's portion of the Department transferred in 1965 to the Legislative Branch (Chapter 453, Acts of 1965). In 1966, the Department severed any affiliation with the City of Baltimore and established permanent offices in Annapolis (Chapter 571, Acts of 1966). The Department of Legislative Reference was abolished in 1997 and its functions assigned to the Department of Legislative Services (Chapters 635 and 636, Acts of 1997).

Department of Fiscal Services. The Department of Fiscal Services originated in 1947 as the Fiscal Research Bureau (Chapter 605, Acts of 1947). By 1965, the Bureau was placed under the General Assembly. The Bureau reorganized in 1968 as the Department of Fiscal Services (Chapter 456, Acts of 1968). In 1997, the Department of Fiscal Services was abolished and its functions moved to the Department of Legislative Services (Chapters 635 and 636, Acts of 1997).

Department of Legislative Services. The Department of Legislative Services operates under the policies and directives of the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the Legislative Policy Committee, and the Joint Audit Committee. The Department provides staff services to the standing committees of the Legislature and to any commissions or committees that the General Assembly or the Legislative Policy Committee may appoint. The Department also provides accounting, printing, bill distribution, telecommunication, and supply services to the General Assembly. In addition, the Department administers programs for interns, pages, and public affairs. Publications available from the Department include the nine-volume Legislative Handbook series and Your Voice in Annapolis.

Historically, the Department has conducted research and drafted legislation for members of the General Assembly. The Department also has provided legislative bills, enactments, journals, documents, records, and the codifications of State and local laws.

With professional fiscal, legal and research staff, the Department supports legislative committees, subcommittees, task forces, and commissions. For the General Assembly, the Department provides ongoing statutory revision services; conducts legal and legislative research; provides fiscal analyses; and offers specialized information services. The Department also reviews and analyzes regulations proposed by Executive Branch agencies; provides legislative and general library resource materials and information services to the General Assembly and the public; and provides computerized services for legislative purposes, including the preparation of bills, laws, journals, and other documents, as well as automated searches of the law.

The work of the Department is organized into three main areas: Legislative Audits; Legislative Information Systems; and Policy Analysis.


[photo, Legislative Services Building, 90 State Circle (from Bladen St.), Annapolis, Maryland]

OFFICE OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Legislative Services Building
90 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401

Within the Office of Executive Director are the Ethics Counsel, Finance and Administrative Services, Human Resources, and Legislative Document Management.

Legislative Services Building, 90 State Circle (from Bladen St.), Annapolis, Maryland, November 1999. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


ETHICS COUNSEL
The Ethics Counsel office was authorized in 1999 (Chapters 129 & 130, Acts of 1999). The Counsel acts as a confidential ethics advisor to the General Assembly, drafts opinions for the Joint Ethics Committee, and conducts education programs and seminars. At least once a year, each member of the General Assembly must meet individually with the Ethics Counsel.

FINANCE & ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES
Finance and Administrative Services is organized into seven functional teams: Distribution Services (mail, bill & bin services); Facilities and Maintenance; Fiscal Operations; Inventory and Risk Management; Procurement and Supply; Telecommunications; and Telecommunications Technical Support.

LEGISLATIVE DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT
In 1998, all preprinting functions were combined with the Legislative Print Shop into one unit, Legislative Document Management, within the Office of the Executive Director.

For the Department of Legislative Services, the General Assembly, and other State agencies, Legislative Document Management prepares and publishes legislative materials, including bills, joint resolutions, amendments, reports, and books. It functions through four units: Operations; Print Shop; Production Coordination; and Proofreading and Editing.


OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE AUDITS

301 West Preston St., Room 1202, Baltimore, MD 21201

Functions of the Office of Legislative Audits began when the office of the State Auditor was established in 1902 within the Treasury Department (Chapter 257, Acts of 1902). In 1929, the office was assigned to the Division of Financial Review and Control, headed by the Comptroller of the Treasury (Chapter 226, sec. 45, Acts of 1929). When the Department of Fiscal Services formed in 1968, the Division of Audits was created within the Department (Chapter 456, Acts of 1968). In 1992, the Division of Audits reformed as the Office of Legislative Audits, which became part of the Department of Legislative Services in 1997 (Chapter 598, Acts of 1992).

At least once every three years, the Office conducts fiscal and compliance audits of each unit of State government, including the offices of clerks of court and registers of wills. Upon direction by the General Assembly or the Joint Audit Committee, the Legislative Auditor may undertake performance or financial audits, reviews, and investigations of a State agency or program, or of a private organization that receives State funds. The Office also conducts financial management audits of local school systems, and reviews the audit reports of all county and municipal governments and community colleges (Code State Government Article, secs. 2-1217 through 2-1222).


OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION SYSTEMS

Legislative Services Building
90 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401

In 1981, the Office of Legislative Information Systems originated as the Office of Legislative Data Processing. It formed to coordinate computer services for the General Assembly. In 1997, the Office of Legislative Data Processing was abolished, and its functions assigned to the Office of Legislative Information Systems of the Department of Legislative Services (Chapters 635 and 636, Acts of 1997).

The Office of Legislative Information Systems develops and supports computer services, data processing, and information systems; operates the General Assembly's data center; and provides coordination and technical assistance to the General Assembly and the Department. The Office provides custom legislative systems, including legislature bill drafting, bill status reports, and chamber automation for voting. Laptop computers and an integrated legislative office computing package are provided for use in the Annapolis and district offices of members of the General Assembly.

With approval of Senate President and the House Speaker, the Director of the Office is appointed by the Department Executive Director (Code State Government Article, secs. 12-1228 through 12-1232).

MARYLAND LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION SYSTEM
Under the Office of Legislative Information Systems is the Maryland Legislative Information System (MLIS). The System provides information about past and present legislative actions, including status of legislation, text of bills and amendments, legislative histories of bills, bill synopses, fiscal notes, and hearing schedules updated daily.

As part of the System, the Subscription Program provides the General Assembly and subscribers with more frequent updates and the ability to maintain profiles of bills of particular interest to them. It also sorts bills by sponsor or subject. A subscriber needs a PC (running Windows 2000 or XP) and either Netscape 8.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later to effectively use the subscription. Available to the public, a subscription for the calendar year is $800.


[photo, Legislative Services Building (view from Lawyers Mall), Annapolis, Maryland]

OFFICE OF POLICY ANALYSIS

Legislative Services Building
90 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401

The Office of Policy Analysis was created in 1997. It provides professional legal and fiscal staff to the major standing committees of the General Assembly, several joint statutory and special committees, several county delegations in the House of Delegates and, during the interim, several task forces and commissions. During and between sessions of the General Assembly, these staff members work directly for committee chairs while under the general direction of the Office. The legislative analysts assigned by the Office provide advisory, fiscal, legal, research and administrative support to the committees in an objective, nonpartisan manner.

Within the Office are a technical support unit and three major components: Fiscal and Policy Analysis; Legislation and Committee Support; and Library and Information Services.

Legislative Services Building (view from Lawyers Mall), Annapolis, Maryland, January 2001. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


FISCAL & POLICY ANALYSIS
Fiscal and Policy Analysis began as the Division of Budget Review and the Division of Fiscal Research under the Department of Fiscal Services. Both divisions merged in 1992 to form the Fiscal Services Unit. Under the Office of Policy Analysis, the Unit reorganized in 1997, first as Fiscal Policy Issues, and then as Fiscal and Policy Analysis.

This unit analyzes operating and capital budgets, processes budget bills, prepares fiscal notes, and provides staff support to the fiscal committees and various statutory and special committees of the General Assembly. It also collects and reports local government financial information; prepares forecasts of revenues and expenditures; undertakes management studies and program evaluations; researches and reports on fiscal policy issues, taxation, operation of governmental units and programs, and fiscal relationships of the State and local governments.

LEGISLATION & COMMITTEE SUPPORT
Legislation and Committee Support formed as Legal Policy Issues in 1997, when most functions from the Department of Legislative Reference were reassigned to it. Duties included legislative drafting, statutory revision, legal analysis and review, library and information services, and research. Legal Policy Issues was renamed Legal Matters in 1997 and adopted its present name in 1999.

For members of the General Assembly, Legislation and Committee Support provides legal opinions and advice pertinent to legislation. To inform members of the General Assembly of legal issues that may affect legislation, it periodically analyzes decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals and opinions of the Attorney General. On behalf of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review, Legislation and Committee Support also reviews and analyzes regulations proposed by executive branch agencies. This review helps ensure agency compliance with statutory authority, legislative intent, and public notice requirements.

Legislation and Committee Support is responsible for Amendments and Legal Analysis; Bill Drafting and Code Revision; and Committee Staffing.

LIBRARY & INFORMATION SERVICES
Within the Office of Policy Analysis, Library and Information Services provides reference and research services to committees, members, and staff of the General Assembly, and legislative information to the public.

Library. The Library collection of over 85,000 volumes consists of Maryland laws and related legislative and legal materials; laws and publications of other states; federal documents; and general reference materials. The Library serves as an official depository for the publications of Maryland State agencies and for all local codes published by county and municipal governments (Code 1957, Art. 25, sec. 32A; Art. 25A, sec. 7; Art. 25B, secs. 7, 12; State Government Article, sec. 2-1312; Education Article, sec. 23-2A-01). Maryland Documents, a list of State agency publications, is issued monthly. Library materials circulate to General Assembly members, their staff, and State agencies.

Information Services. Bill status and other legislative information are provided to the public through information desks in the State House and the Legislative Services Building, and through toll-free telephone numbers. Speakers, tours, and materials on the legislative process are available for constituents, visitors, and school groups.

Information Services also coordinates the Department's publication program and is responsible for publication of the Committee Meetings and Hearing Schedule; Daily Synopsis; Maryland Clipper; indexes to bills, laws, and journals; as well as various rosters, flyers, videos, and brochures about the General Assembly and the Department.

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2009

July 1, 2009   
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