A nuisance abatement bill on blighted properties. Another bill that requires contractors and subcontractors working for the government to use or supply American manufactured goods. And yet another on organ donation and drivers licenses.
These are just three among nearly a dozen bills that were filed by Sen. Ron Young, D-Frederick/Washington, before the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session began this week, an action known as pre-filing.
None of the other legislators from the Washington County delegation had pre-filed any other bills but several said Thursday they have a bunch of bills ready to go.
So why does Young like to file bills early?
“They get early attention. They get before committees and get considered earlier,” he said.
And if you file too late there is always the chance that a bill might pass in the house or the senate but not in the other, he said.
But that is not the operating style of some other Washington County legislators who prefer a wait and watch approach.
Young’s colleague, Sen. Chris Shank, R-Washington, prefers not to file his bills around the same time period so that they are not heard around the same time.
“It is so much more effective for me when I am down here, with all the staff and colleagues to look over everything and work with bill-drafters,” he said.
Shank said he had never pre-filed a bill in 15 years as a legislator in the General Assembly.
“But my bills are called up and ready to go,” Shank said he would likely file several bills next week.
Both Young and Shank said that deciding when to file a bill is mostly a matter of a legislators style or preference.
In the 2012 regular session, Young was the lead sponsor on 34 bills. Eight of those bills became law, according to the Maryland General Assembly website.
Shank was the lead sponsor on 23 bills during the same session, and six of those bills became law.
The advantage of filing a bill early is that you get an early hearing, said Del. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington and the chair of the Washington County legislative delegation.
“When it gets crazy and late, good bills die,” Serafini said.
The delegate said sometimes he will ask a Democratic legislator to file a bill if that means it has a better chance of getting passed.
“[Ronald] Reagan used to say you can get a lot done if you don’t worry about who gets the credit,” Serafini said. “I don’t like scorecards that say how many bills that people get passed because I don’t know if that means you are an effective legislator … I don’t know that’s a great barometer.”
Serafini said he likes to talk to colleagues in different committees in Annapolis to see if a bill has a real chance of getting passed.
“I don’t need to be redundant,” said Serafini, explaining that he likes to see if anyone else has already filed a similar bill.
As for Young, Serafini said the senator who is a Democrat had a better chance of getting bills passed because the party has a strong majority in both legislative chambers in the chambers.
“He has a lot of good ideas … and he is in the right party,” Serafini said.