“Crossover” Day Is Monday…Wait, Why Do We Care Again?

March 21 marks the General Assembly’s “crossover” date – bills that are not passed out of one chamber by the end of the day face higher hurdles for passage.

Members of the Maryland General Assembly are rushing to meet a legislative deadline on March 21, which is known as Crossover Day in Annapolis. In short — the crossover deadline is the General Assembly’s way of moving things along toward passage. Bills need to pass both the House and the Senate to become law – so during the 90-day session, a bill needs to be “on its way” with enough time to be considered by the opposite chamber, and, if necessary, the two chambers sort out their differences.

Bills not clearing their chamber of origin by March 21, the 69th day of the session, will be assigned to the “Rules Committee” in the second chamber. That means an additional procedural step, to get the bill re-assigned from that Committee to its proper committee of subject jurisdiction. With only three weeks left in the session, this alone is frequently enough to prevent a bill from being enacted into law.

The soft rule in Annapolis: most bills that don’t clear their chamber of origin by Monday night will not become law.

Opposite Chamber Bill Hearings

For those bills that do clear out of their first chamber, they still need approval from the second chamber to pass. Session goes until April 11 – here are the next steps.

House bills being heard in the Senate, and Senate bills being heard in the House — the process will vary by Committee and situation. In many cases, especially when the second chamber has already heard an identical “cross-filed” bill/committee, these hearings will be very abbreviated, often merely a brief presentation from the bill sponsor and no other oral testimony. The specific treatment of a given bill may vary based on multiple factors – county officials engaging in late-session hearings are advised to contact the Committee office for guidance on the nature of the hearing (full hearing, sponsor-only, no hearing) to guide your own participation. Written testimony submitted in a timely fashion to the Committee will always reach its members.

As always, county officials are welcome to track legislation using the MACo Legislative Tracking Database, or go directly to the Maryland General Assembly website.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties