2015 Session: Big Wins for Good Government
- Jennifer Bevan Dangel
Legislature shows willingness to tackle tough issues, make government more responsive
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.
“With key bills passing just in time, the final picture is clear: this year the legislature made huge strides towards making government work better for citizens,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. “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.”
Key legislative victories include:
- 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).