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February 21, 2012: Howard County Delegation hearing in Ellicott City
Two local bill hearings were the first items on our agenda: Bill HB 1047 Howard County Alcohol Beverages-Refillable Beer Containers
Bill HB 1189 Howard County –Deputy Sherriff- Collective Bargaining (Public Safety personnel, police and fire, have had the right to collective bargaining in Howard County since the late 70's when, as a member of the County Council, I was a sponsor of that local legislation. This process has worked quite well over the years, and it requires state legislation to extend collective bargaining to personnel in the Sherriff's office.)
Following the hearings, we heard from about 40 Howard County residents, some representing organizations. They spoke for or against many issues that are before us in Annapolis, many of which I have touched on in past e-newsletters this session. PATCH did a good explanatory article about this: http://elkridge.patch.com/articles/howard-county-citizens-unite-against-pension-shift
Prime Sponsored Bills
House Bill 629 Maryland Renter’s Property Tax Relief Program
House Bill 602 Campaign Finance –Affiliated Business Entities Attribution of Contributions
I have introduced this bill many times during past legislative sessions. It passed out of the House several years only to be defeated in the Senate. Common Cause is a strong supporter of this bill which modifies and expands an existing provision that requires campaign contributions by related corporations to be considered as being made by one contributor, limiting the total amount of contributions those corporations can make. The bill expands the limitation to apply to “business entities,” including general or limited partnerships, limited liability companies (LLC), and real estate investment trusts (REIT’s), as well as corporations, specifying that campaign contributions made by two or more business entities are considered to be made by a single contributor if (1) one business entity is a wholly owned subsidiary of another; or (2) the business entities are owned or controlled by at least 80% of the same individual or business entities. The bill would take effect in July, 2012.
Common Cause attended the hearing and testified in support of the bill. Columbia resident Rusty Toler was one of the representatives of this organization that has advocated tirelessly for open government for many years.
I believe the ultimate answer to rampant campaign finance abuse which results in gross social, economic, and environmental injustice, is public funding of campaigns. Until we get there, this bill would go a long way in dealing with cases like Citizens United.
News articles related to major issues in this legislative session
Las Vegas on the Potomac (Those of us who believed it was not good public policy to approve slot machines in Maryland expressed concern that it would soon lead to allowing casinos. We did not expect that it would be this soon. In my opinion, one more example of how “quick fixes” to our budget problems simply don’t work.)
State Could End Program For Child Abuse Prevention (Living in one of the top three wealthiest counties in the United States (total 3,000+ counties) we simply cannot allow ourselves forget that we have poor families living among us. I serve as a member of the advisory board to Healthy Families and have deep respect for their work.)
Read Liz's email update for the week of February 17