Feeling the pressure of more and more local bills, the Montgomery County legislative delegation has adopted a new hearing process requiring citizens who want to be heard on a local bill by the full delegation to make their wishes known by early August.

Del. Donald Robertson (D-Chevy Chase) said the recently adopted hearing guidelines are designed to make local bill deliberations more efficient for legislators and more meaningful for citizens.

In the past, the delegation has held a full hearing on almost every local bill. Robertson said the growing number of bills, more than 200 last year, has made that impractical now.

Recently, because of the increased number of local bills, the delegation has eliminated hearings on technical or corrective local bills and bills from prior sessions on which there have been no changes.

This year, full delegation hearings will be eliminated for all but a few bills which Robertson will designate. Three or four committees, with no overlapping membership, will hold hearings on the other bills. And many bills won't have scheduled hearings at all.

"It's an effort to have our time used more efficiently, and it will also provide better hearings, because committees will have more time to spend on bills than the whole delegation." Robertson said. The guidelines were formally adopted by the delegation recently.

The new procedure requires citizens who want to have hearings by the delegation or a committee to make their wishes known to delegates in early August, when the hearing shedule is determined.Robertson said he will publicize his proposed hearing schedule then, and adopt it later in the month after getting reaction from delegates and citizens.

All the county's local bills have a July 15 filing deadline. Hearings will begin on them shortly after Labor Day. The entire delegation will, as always, vote on each bill regardless of the committee recommendation. Robertson said he expects to have decisions on local bills beginning in late September, with most of the work completed before the General Assembly session begins in January.