2016 Session: Gridlock on Good Government
- jennifer bevan dangel, damon effingham
Attention shifts to local government, summer studies as public frustration with inaction grows
Annapolis – With the 2016 legislative session nearing its close, advocates expressed their disappointment that more progress was not made on good government reforms in the past 90 days.
“While the legislature made some progress this session, particularly on expanding access to voting, overall we saw no meaningful progress on key reforms,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director. “At a time when the public is clamoring for open and honest government and is sick and tired of political duplicity, the lack of action on these issues sends the wrong message.”
Common Cause Maryland works on five areas of reform: voting, redistricting, campaign finance, transparency, and ethics. The group praised action by the legislature to restore voting rights to formerly convicted felons, modernize and expand voter registration, and require audits of the new voting systems after the elections. They also noted a few discrete reforms that did advance, such as requiring public bodies to post agendas in advance of meetings and closing the loophole that allowed petition campaigns to raise funds without reporting those donations.
However, the legislative session saw no progress on other critical reforms:
- Reforming the state’s broken redistricting process;
- Protecting the U.S. Constitution from the unprecedented threat of a runaway conventions
- Closing campaign finance loopholes that allow dark money to flow through our elections.
“The country wants change on these issues, and this legislative session failed to deliver for Maryland. The people can’t make progress in Congress, and now we find we can’t make meaningful progress in Annapolis,” Bevan-Dangel said.
“While we are keenly disappointed that the state legislative session failed to address so many issues,” she added, “Common Cause Maryland will continue the fight this summer – in the nation’s capital, in our counties, and in summer legislative study.”
Next steps include:
- Joining thousands marching on Washington as part of Democracy Awakening;
- Fighting for fair elections programs in the counties, including Montgomery and Howard;
- Working on comprehensive transparency reforms with the Attorney General’s study and the Governor’s Commission to Modernize State Procurement;
- Building public engagement on redistricting reform to support the Commission’s recommendations;
- Analyzing the elections in Baltimore City to recommend a package of campaign finance reforms in advance of the state elections in 2018.
Common Cause Maryland is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard.