Howard County Council to consider bill to Fix Fair Elections Program

Council meeting is tonight, starting at 7pm

The Howard County Council will hold a public hearing tonight on legislation to fix a provision that is blocking Fair Elections funding for at least one candidate who wishes to participate in the program and qualifies for matching funds.

The Council meeting begins at 7pm and will be livestreamed here and broadcast on Verizon Channel 44 and Comcast Channel 99. Read the full meeting agenda here.

The Fair Elections Maryland Coalition last week called on the Howard County Council to pass the bill as “emergency legislation” so that it can go into effect quickly; any delay will disadvantage candidates who are now blocked from receiving matching funds. Read the full press release here.  If passed as emergency legislation, it will take effect on Feb. 7, 2022. If passed as a regular bill, it will take effect on April 7. 

The bill has been pending without Council action since last October. Earlier today, the Howard County Department of Finance opined that, in the absence of corrective legislation, the Department is legally barred from releasing Citizens’ Election Fund monies to the affected campaign.  

In 2016, Howard County voters approved a Charter Amendment, Question A, to create the Citizens’ Election Fund and direct the County Council to finalize a program for small donor public financing.

The 2022 elections will be the first to be held under the Fair Elections system.