The League of Women Voters of Maryland (LWVMD) and Common Cause of Maryland (CCMD) testified in favor of SB 72/HB 344 “Open Meetings Act – Requirements for State Agencies and Local Boards of Elections (Maryland Transparency Act of 2021)” sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan. The bill is cross-filed by Delegate Marc Korman. This legislation would strengthen transparency in the creation of new policies, programs, and proposals by State agencies in the Executive Branch and local Boards of Elections which would foster increased public awareness of and engagement in public policy development.
The COVID-19 pandemic has advanced the successful use of live-streaming technologies for meetings. The bill would ensure the public regular on-line access to governmental activities and timely notice of meetings, agendas, background materials, and minutes.
LWVMD and CCMD are hopeful the Citizens Redistricting Commission that will be appointed by Governor Hogan will fall under the provisions of this legislation. “The work of the Commission will impact every voter in the state and it should be done with transparency and allow for meaningful public participation. We thank the sponsors for continuously working to shine a light on government proceedings, creating equitable access for those who are unable to participate in person,” said Joanne Antoine, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland.
This spring, LWVMD and CCMD will reach out to voters about the upcoming Congressional and Legislative redistricting process with educational materials, workshops and webinars. It is important that voters understand the significance of election districts, how they are drawn, the steps in the process, and the opportunities for Marylanders to engage before the final district maps are brought to a vote. “Inclusion of the Redistricting Commission in this legislation will substantially enhance this effort,” said Beth Hufnagel, Redistricting Team Leader for the League of Women Voters of Maryland.
Testimony of Joanne Antoine, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland, is available here.
Testimony of the League of Women Voters of Maryland is available here.
Tame the Gerrymander is a coalition of nonpartisan organizations working to establish a fair and open process for drawing election districts in Maryland.