My experience in the General Assembly began with being the legislative aide for Cathy Vitale, who was then a delegate and is now a judge. Little did she know I wasn’t sure what a delegate was.
She was patient and tolerant, explaining the processes behind being the best delegate she could be, and she suggested I watch “How a Bill becomes a Law.” She also had the best legislative director, who helped me learn how the legislature functions during the manic 90-day session.
I look forward to my seventh session, which will begin next January, now working as Delegate Michael Malone’s legislative aide. Appointed by Larry Governor Hogan to replace Cathy Vitale in 2014 and elected to return last November, Delegate Malone is both my boss and my mentor. His district encompasses Millersville, Severna Park, Crofton, Crownsville, Odenton, Gambrills, Severn and the Broadneck peninsula. He is truly passionate about the issues that affect every constituent in District 33.
While Delegate Malone grew up in Anne Arundel County, he hasn’t lived in the Severna Park area. Luckily, I am native to this great community, having lived both in Severna Park and Millersville over the last 45 years. I love it here. Despite many changes and much growth, Severna Park’s unique sense of community has prospered since the 1950s, when neighborhoods thrived as a weekend play-land for escaping Baltimore executives. Half a century later, residents still fish, crab, ski, sail and powerboat on the beautiful waterways of our Severn and Magothy rivers.
What have I learned that I can share with Severna Park Voice readers? Well, first of all, our office does far more than typical legislative tasks. Busy during the legislative session (January through April) and throughout the year, we also are a resource to members of our district, available to anyone who is having trouble or has questions, bill-related or not. As our office has connections to various state departments and agencies, we often help individuals and families with any difficulties they might have with social services, the Motor Vehicle Administration, road surfaces, environmental concerns, tax issues, redistricting, judiciary questions, animal rights, education and more.
We receive thousands of emails each session on many topics. Delegate Malone tackles each by thinking critically about whether appropriate legislation can be crafted to successfully address the problem. Much new legislation stems from a call or email to the office or a witness testifying on a bill. At the state level, one constituent truly can spark change. At times, a government agency will ask the delegate to sponsor a bill. For example, in 2017, Delegate Malone and the State’s Attorney’s Office worked together to craft and promote legislation successfully making home invasion a crime of violence.
Secondly, many interest groups from all over the state make appointments to confer with the delegate or his staff. Our office’s mission is to listen and understand. Though Delegate Malone sits on the judiciary committee, he hears the concerns of all groups and their arguments why a bill is important or should pass. The Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, Physician Advocacy, pharmacists, Special Olympics, Maryland Schools Strong — you name the group, it has been in our office. Often, Delegate Malone is in committee, a caucus meeting or a voting session, so his staff meets with the group to listen, take notes and understand their perspectives, which are shared with the delegate. All groups that visit can tell their story. If Delegate Malone disagrees, it is discussed with the group or constituent face to face, by email or by phone.
Finally, the Maryland Higher Education Commission releases funds to each district, so we have the privilege to grant scholarship money to high school seniors, undergraduate students and graduate students pursuing a college degree in Maryland. The talent and the accomplishments of these individuals are astounding, and decisions are difficult.
The delegate’s mission is to be available to constituents, to draft legislation to better Maryland and make our community a safe and vibrant place, and to serve District 33 ethically and honestly. Delegate Malone, assisted by a great staff, does all this. If you have any questions about our office and what we do, you are invited to spend a day in the life of a delegate or the delegate’s assistant at any time. Our office number is 410-841-3510.