It’s going to be a very different looking Legislative Session. This is what we know so far — The Session will be totally via remote viewing. Citizens can only enter the State House or Legislative offices by appointment. Hearings will be virtual –you must sign up 2 days ahead to provide oral or written testimony. You must establish an Account at the Legislative Web Site in order to testify. In place of “Day 2” visits We are sending an e-mail letter from Diana and priorities.
WE NEED CALLS – E-MAILS – LETTERS – to Uphold the Governor’s Vetoes – Over-ride efforts begin in the originating chamber and if approved move to a vote in the other chamber. Make calls Monday – Wednesday. Override efforts will be scheduled very early in the session, perhaps even Thursday or Friday.
As we stated in our MFRW 2021 Legislative Priorities:
Ask Legislators to Uphold the Governor’s veto of HB 1300 – Kirwan Commission’s Blueprint for Education is too costly at State and local level, especially during this pandemic. The Blueprint adds extra layers of bureaucratic control; doesn’t require that every child read and do math at grade level and has little parent involvement or consent for education, social or health services.
Please understand that this Blueprint is a long-term bureaucratic process for takeover of Maryland’s educational system appointed commission NOT ANSWERABLE TO THE CITIZENS. It is designed to bring health and social services for children, adolescents and teenagers to community school campuses under their purview with little or no involvement or approval of parents.
Several Long-term areas of concern are:
Reverse racism that is being pursued as racial equity; (we saw this in Pres. Elect- Biden’s statements this week.) – The dictionary defines “equity” as: the quality of being fair or impartial; fairness and justice. It states that in Law equity is: the application of the dictates of conscience or the principles of natural justice to the settlement of controversies. Whereas equality is defined as “the state or quality of being equal. We need to be very watchful about the use of “equity”.
And we also need to watch out for Gender education that promotes questioning one’s biological gender.
Mental health counseling and treatments that can lead to permanent surgical and medication changes to minors.
School Boards control approximately 50% of county expenditures in most jurisdictions. They control what your children are taught – academics, as well as civic, social and ethical/moral values. Every one of us needs to follow what is going on in our schools – monitor school board meetings, participate in school activities and RUN FOR SEATS ON SCHOOL BOARDS.
REDISTRICTING – Several House bills related to Legislative and/or Congressional Redistricting have been prefilled, and will be assigned to Rules & Executive Nominations Committee including:
HB -339 – Legislative Districts – Standards by Delegate Malone. L.D. shall be adjoining territory, compact in form, substantially equal population and (2) MAY NOT ACCOUNT FOR HOW INDIVIDUALS ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE, HOW INDIVIDUALS VOTED IN THE PAST, OR THE POLITICAL PARTY TO WHICH INDIVIDUALS BELONG. DUE REGARD SHALL BE GIVEN TO NATURAL BOUNDARIES AND THE BOUNDARIES OF POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS
HB 410 – Congressional Districts – Standards (Anti-gerrymandering) by Delegate Malone. Adds New Article XX to Constitution setting same standards as HB 339 for Congressional Districts.
OTHER ELECTION RELATED LEGISLATION – All BAD:
House Bills listed for hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee (W&M) on January 26 include:
HB 53 – Remove Restriction on convicted felons who are currently incarcerated voting.
HB – 57 – Voters Rights Protection Act – Del. Rosenberg. Requires public hearings, court declaratory judgement and local gov’t. approval of any “COVERED CHANGE IN VOTING LOCATIONS” –ANY CHANGE THAT REDUCES, CONSOLIDATES, OR RELOCATES VOTING LOCATIONS IN ANY CENSUS TRACT WITHIN WHICH ONE OR MORE RACIAL MINORITY GROUPS OR LANGUAGE MINORITY GROUPS REPRESENT 20% OR MORE OF THE VOTING AGE POPULATION even if there is an emergency declared by the Governor. – Absentee ballots allowed to be postmarked by the day AFTER election. Local Board must attempt to contact voter who fails to sign oath on envelope and allow voter to correct failure by the end of the canvass and have vote counted.
Requires a foreign Principal or agent to disclose their identity when posting information regarding information designed to influence a state or local election on a social media site; or trying to influence a policy issue or state official.
HB – 153 – Elections by Mail – Del. Ivey – Every registered voter w/receive a ballot by mail. Provides for replacement ballot if ballot is lost, damaged or not received. Requires noting in the voting register that a replacement ballot was sent, but doesn’t define what action to take if both ballots are eventually returned.
HB 156 (SB283) – Voter Empowerment Act – Del. Luedtke – Establish a Voter Coordinator and a Voting Plan at every institution of higher learning in MD and encourage and support recognized student organizations engaged in voter registration and encouraging students voting.
HB 163 – State Bd of Elections to be appointed by Pres. of Senate & Speaker of House.
HB 202 – Presidential Electors – Pledge to Vote for Candidate who nominated them and if National Popular Vote Compact is in effect they must pledge to vote for the winner of the National Popular Vote of the Compact states rather than how Maryland Voters voted.
HB 274 – Elections by Mail – Del. Cardin – Every registered voter receives a Vote by Mail ballot. requires ballots be received by date set by State BD by regulation. (Almost identical to HB 153) except provides that voter may discard that ballot & vote by any other method allowed.
HB 341 – Election – Absentee Ballot Canvass – Start & Release of Tabulation – Canvass will begin 14 days before the election. Partial or complete tabulation of AB may not be released prior to 1 hour after polls close on election day; or after all precincts have reported.
HB 412 – Task Force to Study Increased Voter Participation (Hearing 1/19)
HB 211 – Early Voting – Days of Operation – Adds two additional days of EV.
HB355 – Election Law – Registered Voters List Security & Signature Requirements for Petitions. Allows for electronic signatures of petitions, but requires a circulator to witness-in-person a voter signing a petition electronically.
Also in W&M on January 19 will be the hearing on HB 222 – Value my Vote Act by Del. Wilkins. Requires correctional institutions to provide a voter registration form and information stating voter rights restored to each released individual. Also requires correctional institutions to provide voter registration, absentee ballot applications to incarcerated individuals who are entitled to vote (i.e., individuals awaiting trial) and to return those applications and ballots to BOE timely.
Ella Ennis MFRW Legislative Chairman
Click below to view/download the Legislative Committee’s Weekly Update (coming)