In a highly contentious session, the bipartisan nature of good government shone through as a suite of important good government bills were passed into law in the final hours. The legislature has heard the discontent with how government is functioning and they took action – investing in fair elections, opening up access to public information, and expanding access to voting. They demonstrated a willingness do what Congress cannot; tackle important issues and make government more open and responsive.
Here's just a taste of what Common Cause Maryland accomplished over the last ninety days:
- Restored funding to the Fair Campaign Finance Fund, the small-donor matching program for gubernatorial candidates. The legislature strengthened the program by expanding the possible voluntary funding sources and adding strengthening language to keep the program clean. (HB485, Gov. Hogan)
- Updated the Maryland Public Information Act to ensure that fees and exemptions are not used to deny public access to data, and create an oversight body with authority to mediate disputes around agency or local MPIA decisions (SB695, Raskin/HB755, Cullison).
- Restored voting rights to roughly 40,000 Marylanders by clarifying the laws that permit formerly incarcerated persons to vote (SB340, Conway/HB980, McCray).
That may sound like a lot, but don't think we're resting on our laurels just yet -- there's still more to do. Over the next few months we will be working hard to support fair campaigns at the local level, inform the Governor’s study commission on redistricting reform, and continue the unfinished business from the past year.
This has been a successful legislative session, but our work is just beginning.