182 MARYLAND MANUAL
A HISTORY OF
THE 1959 SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The General Assembly of Maryland met in approximately its 325th
session on January 7, 1959. It adjourned on the evening of the 88th
day, being April 4. At the very outset, the Legislature was faced
by a situation almost without precedent. In both Houses, there was
a total of only ten minority members. Elections of 1958 had returned
to the House of Delegates 116 Democrats and 7 Republicans, and to
the Senate, 26 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Early in the session,
this situation was reflected in a law to reduce the minority representa-
tion in the Legislative Council.
A total of 1,511 bills was introduced of which 608 were Senate bills
and 903 were House bills. Three hundred seventy-three Senate bills
passed both Houses, and of these, the Governor signed 361 and vetoed
12. Four hundred eighty-eight House bills passed both Houses, and
of these, the Governor signed 470 and vetoed 18.
Since the Governor made these 30 vetoes after the General Assembly
had adjourned, these bills must be returned to the two Houses at the
next meeting of the General Assembly for a vote on sustaining or
overriding the vetoes.
Sixty-two joint resolutions were introduced, 26 in the Senate and 36
in the House. Fourteen Senate Joint Resolutions and 23 House Joint
Resolutions passed both Houses.
Among the more important pieces of legislation enacted at the
1959 Session were a number of bills to reorganize departments and
agencies of the State government. The State Roads Commission was
reconstituted with seven members instead of three. The State Racing
Commission and the Tidewater Fisheries Commission were each en-
larged from three members to five, and underwent administrative and
Reorganizations of the State Tax Commission and the State
Planning Commission accomplished fundamental changes. The State
Tax Commission was renamed the State Tax Court, and in addition
a Department of Assessments and Taxation was created; the main
purpose was to separate the administrative and the quasi-judicial
functions of the former agency. The State Planning Commission was
transformed into an advisory body and a Department of State
Planning was established. The Governor appoints the Director of the
new department, who is responsible to him.
The General Assembly enacted and the Governor signed a proposed
Compact of 1958 designed, after approval by the State of Virginia
and by the Congress of the United States, to supersede the Compact
of 1785 in controlling relationships between the two states concerning
fisheries in the Potomac River. Following the session of the General
Assembly, a petition signed by the required number of voters made
this bill subject to a referendum on the State-wide ballot in 1960.
Another important Act created a Commission and Department of
Economic Development for the general purpose of advancing the
economic welfare of the people of Maryland through programs and
activities to develop natural resources, economic possibilities, travel,
touring, and recreation.
The Legislature in 1959 also proposed eleven amendments to the
Constitution of Maryland, all to be submitted to the voters in 1960.
One of the most important is designed to reorganize the lower
municipal courts in Baltimore City.
The budget bill, as proposed by the Governor and finally enacted by
the General Assembly, was the largest in the history of the State.