Improved Bill Notifications Sought

SALISBURY – Wicomico County officials want to include language in a county code that will outline a process for distributing information on legislative bills that are adopted by the County Council.

In an open work session of the Wicomico County Council this week, Councilman Marc Kilmer explained that department heads and residents alike are not receiving information about adopted bills and added that there was no established procedure for distributing the information.

“Obviously, there was a breakdown and we need to figure out something so that doesn’t happen again,” he said.

County Attorney Paul Wilbur said that once the county council and county executive approve a bill, it is enrolled in a council journal. The problem, he said, could be solved through email blasts that are sent to the county’s staff and residents.

“I think at the end of the day, once it’s enrolled, it’s a matter of an email blast,” Wilbur said. “It goes out to everybody.”

Much of the discussion, however, rested on who was responsible for sending along the information.

Kilmer said legislative results are compiled at the end of each year and posted online. Yet, he suggested the county attorney take a larger role in compiling the legislation and sending out notifications.

“The county attorney is more of a neutral department than the others,” he told the council.

Council President John Cannon also suggested that all bills – including those that are disapproved or had no action – be included in the notifications.

“This bill doesn’t address that situation,” he said. “I think there needs to be something established in this bill that addresses those circumstances as well.”

Councilman Joe Holloway agreed, but said the notifications would be more beneficial to county employees.

“It’s really important for the public to know, but even more important that the staff knows so that they act or don’t act upon it,” he said.

Wilbur suggested forming a work group of officials from the county council and county executive’s office to revise the rule and include language that outlines a process for sending notifications to the public.

“It’s about communication,” he said.

Wilbur and the group will bring amendments to the council for discussion in an open work session later next month.

“We are trying to figure out a way that works for the legislative branch as well as the executive branch and the county attorney,” Kilmer said. “We need a system that works for everybody.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.