2019 Legislative Review

This session Common Cause Maryland helped move significant reforms that secured and implemented previous legislative victories, responded to 2018 election issues, and advanced technical reforms on a range of issues – teeing up more work to be done in 2020.

* Passed

Access to Voting

* Election Day Registration – In the 2018 election, Marylanders resoundingly supported the Constitutional Amendment to allow eligible Marylanders to register to vote or update their registration address on Election Day; with 1,456,168 voters approving it. This session, we fully implemented the program, ensuring anyone qualified to vote can do so when they show up to the polls. HB286/SB449 (Del. Reznik, Sen. Pinsky)

Ranked Choice Voting in Montgomery County and Baltimore City – Providing Montgomery County and Baltimore City voters with the opportunity to rank candidates for certain local office from first to last choice on the ballot, a method that has been proven a constitutionally sound system that would increase voter participation in the lawmaking and electoral process for a more robust democracy. HB624 (Montgomery County Delegation), HB26 (Del. Lierman)

Access to Voter Information and the Ballot for Eligible Detainees – Mandating that eligible detainees in a correctional facility have access to materials that would allow them to vote, ensuring that all eligible Marylanders can exercise their right to vote, even in such unfortunate circumstances as pretrial detainment. HB252/SB936 (Del. Washington, Sen. Carter)

* Election Day Page Program – Allowing students who are trained by the State Board of Elections to provide assistance to election judges in polling places on Election Day, helping to ensure fair and accessible elections for all voters as well as helping to form voting habits in young Marylanders. SB364 (Sen. Simonaire)

Prepaid Postage for Return of Absentee Ballots – Requiring that absentee ballots be accompanied with prepaid postage as well as instructions for their return, ensuring our electoral process is as open and accessible as possible. HB269/SB343 (Del. Reznik, Sen. Kagan)

Voter Registration for High School Students – Mandating that local boards of election work in partnership with local school boards to hold voter registration drives in Maryland high schools once per year. HB423/SB934 (Del. Kelly, Sen. Waldstreicher)

* Voter Registration Deadlines – Extending the voter registration deadline to midnight for 21 days before an election for registrations submitted electronically and requiring the SBE to promulgate regulations for the secure storage of voter data and reporting of breaches of that data. HB172 (Del. Kaiser)

Affiliating with a Party During Early Voting – Allowing unaffiliated, registered voters to change their registration to a party during the early voting period, creating a pathway for more voters to have a meaningful impact on the democratic process in a way that would not materially impact the state’s current preference for closed primaries. HB530/SB489 (Del. Qi, Sen. Kagan)

* Secure Election Infrastructure – Providing more transparency into the ownership of election service providers that contract with the State Board of Elections and allowing the State Board to terminate contracts under certain circumstances where foreign interests take ownership and control over election service provider activity. SB743 (Sen. Pinsky)

Campaign Finance

Maryland Small Donor Incentive Act – Creating a small donor matching system for General Assembly candidates so that they can run free from the influence of wealthy donors. HB1017 (Del. Mosby)

Easily Identify Suspicious Business Contributors – Helping easily identify suspicious donations from businesses in our elections, closing loopholes that let wealthy donors abuse campaign limits. HB1026 (Del. Mosby)

* County Public Campaign Financing Administration – Strengthening campaign finance enforcement by requiring that counties who enact public funding programs provide oversight in addition to that provided by the State Board of Elections. HB830 (Del. Washington)

* Campaign Finance Report Late Fees – Increasing the penalties candidates must pay for failing to file campaign finance reports in a timely manner and prohibiting the issuance of a certificate of nomination to a candidate who has failed to file campaign finance reports or failed to pay fines assessed by the State Board of Elections. HB878 (Del. Kaiser)

* Investigation of Coordinated Expenditures – Giving the State Administrator or a designee authority to investigate potential violations of Maryland’s coordinated expenditure law and seek further evidence of such violations. HB1025/SB123 (Del. Mosby, Sen. Pinsky)

Expand Public Campaign Finance Program to Cover Board of Education – Allowing for public campaign finance systems in the counties to also cover the board of education, expanding on the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2013. HB147/SB535 (Del. Moon, Sen. Lam)

Redistricting Reform

Potomac Compact for Fair Representation – Promoting standards for Congressional district lines, public hearings, and a commission of professionals dedicated to nonpartisan research and analysis. HB67 (Del. Reznik)

Independent Citizens’ Commission – Creating an independent commission to draw Legislative and Congressional district lines, set compactness standards for our Congressional districts, and ensure transparency and opportunity for public comment in the process. HB43/SB90 (Gov. Hogan)

Congressional District Standards – Requiring each congressional district in the State to consist of adjoining territory, be compact in form, and be substantially equal in population. HB463/SB110 (Del. Malone, Sen. Reilly)

Transparency and Accountability

* State Board of Elections Transparency Act – Increasing access to and the efficiency of the State Board of Elections’ meetings process by requiring that those meetings are live streamed online and preserved for later viewing. HB71/SB184 (Del. Korman, Sen. Kagan)

Live Stream and Archive of General Assembly Meetings / Transparency Act of 2019 – Requiring that floor sessions of the General Assembly and meetings of standing committees be live-streamed online and available for later viewing. HB144/SB199 (Del. Szeliga, Sen. Hough) and HB232/SB207 (Gov. Hogan)

Expand the Public Information Act – Expanding the types of documents that citizens may access under the Public Information Act (“PIA”) to allow Marylanders the right to access and review information related to how complaints against public employees are handled by government entities. HB413/SB979 (Del. Barron, Sen. Carter)

Other Initiatives

* Avert Dangerous Call for a Constitutional Convention – Averting call for a constitutional convention which would place every constitutional right and protection currently available to American citizens in jeopardy. HJ2/SJ1 (Del. Gaines, Sen. Pinsky)