DEPARTMENT OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


[Photograph of Legislative Services Building] Legislative Services Building (view from College Ave.)
Annapolis, Maryland, November 1999. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


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.

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.

OFFICE OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Legislative Services Building
90 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401 - 1991

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

FINANCE & ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES
Finance and Administrative Services is organized into seven functional teams: Accounts Payable; Distribution Services; Facilities and Inventory; Payroll, Accounts Receivable, and Reporting; Procurement and Supply; and Telecommunications.

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.

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 (Chapter 598, Acts of 1992).

The Office conducts post audits of a compliance or performance nature of all departments, agencies, and institutions 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 a management audit of a State agency or program or an audit of a private organization that receives State funds. The Office also reviews the audit reports of all county and municipal governments and community colleges (Code State Government Article, secs. 2-1201 through 2-1222).

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION SYSTEMS

Legislative Services Building
90 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401 - 1991

The Office of Legislative Information Systems originated as the Office of Legislative Data Processing in 1981. It formed to coordinate computer services for the General Assembly. The Office of Legislative Data Processing was abolished in 1997 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 legislative information systems, operates the General Assembly's data center, and provides coordination and technical assistance to the General Assembly and its staff agencies.

The Director is appointed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates.

MARYLAND LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION SYSTEM
Under the Office of Legislative Information Systems is the Maryland Legislative Information System (MLIS). The System is a tool used by the General Assembly support offices and committees to create and manipulate databases and reports.

As part of the System, the Subscription Program provides the General Assembly and subscribers with legislative histories of bills, bill synopses, bill title text, fiscal notes, hearing schedules, and profile services updated daily. It also sorts bills by sponsor or subject. A subscriber needs access to the World Wide Web through an Internet service provider, and Netscape 2.0 or a later edition is recommended. Available to the public, a subscription for the calendar year is $800.

OFFICE OF POLICY ANALYSIS

Legislative Services Building
90 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401 - 1991

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.

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, and Code Revision and Drafting.

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 66,000 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, 2000

July 18, 2000   
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