Prince George’s County Council’s committee structure and procedures will run differently once it expands from nine to 11 members in December.
The changes include formation of new committees, increase committees from five to six and increase members to veto any legislation from the county executive from six to “two-thirds … of the full council,” or seven. In addition, the council vote must be done by roll call.
The council approved a resolution last week to make the changes.
The biggest change will be council’s committee setup, which hasn’t been changed in 25 years.
The Committee of Public Safety and Fiscal Management will become Government Operations and Fiscal Policy. Public safety topics such as domestic violence and mental health will be incorporated into the new Health, Human Services and Public Safety committee.
The other four committees are: Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment; Planning Hosing and Economic Development; Education and Workforce Development; and General Assembly, which will mainly convene when state lawmakers are in session during the 90-day Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis.
Council Chairwoman Dannielle Glaros (D-District 3) of Riverdale Park said during a break at the July 24 meeting in Upper Marlboro that certain topics can better align with a particular committee.
For instance, she said the current Health, Education and Human Services committee discussed Board of Election matters. Any proposals on election items will be reviewed by the new government operations group.
“It really lends us the opportunity to have some of these big conversations [such as] domestic violence that’s health and human services, that’s public safety [and] mental health,” she said. “It allows us to have those cross-cutting conversations with different agencies and try to get to solutions.”
According to the resolution, each committee will have five members, with a quorum of three at each session. The structure change also reflects the increase of adding two at-large members that voters approved in 2016.
Meanwhile, council introduced legislation to create an Office of the Poet Laureate, which assist with funding of arts programs for youth.
“The arts can reduce youth involvement in self destructive, counterproductive and anti-social behaviors,” according to the resolution. “An Office of the Poet Laureate would be the perfect vehicle by which to assist in the creation of programs that would combine the arts with youth programs in Prince George’s County.”
One of the two sponsors, Councilman Obie Patterson (D-District 8) of Fort Washington, isn’t sure how much it will cost, but expressed confidence more productive activities will keep youth out of trouble.
He said some programs could take place during or after school.
“The nexus behind the bill is to think a little bit outside the box,” he said. “It would be a major plus to help our students to not become destructive and focus a little more on the arts and humanities in schools.”
The resolution will be reviewed by council’s Health, Education and Human Services Committee and the county executive’s office.
The council is on recess in August and plans to reconvene Sept. 4.