The League of Women Voters of Maryland applauds the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission for releasing the Congressional draft maps. This is a promising sign that they are open to transparency and citizen input.
We were pleased to see that in LRAC’s release they have included four maps that demonstrate that the commission has heard the testimony given. Our hope is that this is an indication that LRAC and the Maryland General Assembly will continue to put partisanship aside to focus on the concerns of the residents of Maryland.
We urge all Marylanders to review these maps and send comments to LRAC in the coming weeks before the start of the special session on December 6th. Now is the time to contact your elected officials and demand they hear your concerns about these maps. We urge the Commissioners to hear this feedback and release a single map before the session starts. LWVMD continues to uphold our non-partisan mission and wants to ensure that, to the extent possible, all district lines are drawn with the goal of providing the best representation to the constituents in those districts. This can only be done through a transparent and public process.
To view the maps please go here:
To send feedback to LRAC, please email them at: [email protected]
The non-partisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project (PGP) has awarded a Grade-A score to the Maryland Citizen Redistricting Commission’s (MCRC) Congressional and State Senate draft maps released earlier this month. The MCRC electoral maps were graded on partisan fairness, competitiveness among other redrawn maps, and compactness and county splits. The PGP assessment helps Marylanders to understand what a fair map looks like, especially when compared to current district maps.
Based on the most recent national and statewide elections data, the PGP-expected results will be 2 Republican and 6 Democratic members of Congress and 14 Republican and 28 Democratic State Senators. Of the 47 state senate districts, five are competitive. Three Congressional districts have 40 percent or more Black Voting Age Population (BVAP); and six have 40 percent or more of total Minority Voting Age Population (MVAP). Fourteen of the senate districts have 40 percent or more BVAP, and twenty-eight have 40 percent or more of MVAP.
Another non-partisan group, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), has developed different analytical software, PlanScore, to evaluate partisan advantage in Congressional districts using the 2020 Presidential election results. Based on the PlanScore analysis, Democrats are predicted to win six Congressional seats, Republicans one, and the eighth district “leans Republican.” For the State Senate, PlanScore predicts 11 Republican seats plus 3 seats “leaning Republican,” and 30 Democratic seats plus 3 seats “leaning Democratic.”
The LWVMD encourages the public to examine these maps and let both the MCRC and the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission know specifically what is good or not about them. The League invites the public to also observe and respond to the work of both Commissions and to rally in Annapolis when the Maryland General Assembly considers the Congressional map. The MCRC’s maps, in both easily-read PDF and a format suitable for analysis, can be downloaded by the public at:https://apps.planning.maryland.gov/redistricting/commissionproposedmaps.html.
The details of the PGP’s Redistricting Report Cards are at:
The details of the CLC’s PlanScore are at:
Historical Maps 2012-2020: https://planscore.campaignlegal.org/maryland/#!2020-plan-ushouse-eg
Maryland’s Delegate map, being a complex combination of single and multi-districts, cannot be graded by standard statistical models.
“The Maryland Citizen Redistricting Commission Releases Draft Congressional and Legislative District Maps”
Media Contact Nikki Tyree, 410-269-0232 [email protected]
Response from League of Women Voters of Maryland.
The League of Women Voters of Maryland applauds the improved transparency and willingness to hear community voices of both of Maryland’s 2021 redistricting commissions, including the willingness to accept maps created by the public. However, the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission (LRAC), has not yet announced its intention to open the map-drawing process to the public. Further, the LRAC cannot get meaningful public input on its draft Congressional map unless it is released no later thanNovember 15.
The bi-partisan Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission (LRAC), also tasked with drawing Maryland’s legislative and Congressional district lines, is still in the process of its public regional hearings despite being formed in July. We are concerned about the public’s ability to meaningfully observe the map-drawing process. In addition, meaningful feedback is also needed from the public on the first draft of LRAC’s proposed maps. Releasing the Congressional map after the last hearing on November 18 will leave only a week for the public to study it, and no time for the Commission to consider the people’s comments. We ask that the Commission release the Congressional map before the hearings are completed, no later than November 15.
“If ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, then surely a draft map is worth more than statements like “we are committed to fair elections and representation for all Marylanders.” It’s time for the Legislative Commission to show us the dividing lines for the next ten years.” – Beth Hufnagel, Redistricting Committee Chair, League of Women Voters of Maryland
The working meetings of the multi-partisan Maryland Citizen Redistricting Commission’s (MCRC), including the public process of actually drawing the maps, was a fascinating tutorial on the challenges and myriad choices of this process. The release of the MCRC’s proposed Congressional and state Legislative maps at the start of October will leave sufficient time for their four scheduled hearings during October to secure community feedback, and for the MCRC to consider the public’s comments before it sends the final maps to Governor Hogan.
The League of Women Voters of Maryland implores the LRAC to not only listen to Maryland citizens during these hearings, but also to hear their constituents before they decide on what districts are best for communities they do not live in.
August 12, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
With today’s Census Bureau’s data release the League of Women Voters of Maryland (LWVMD) calls for a redistricting process that includes maximum opportunity for public scrutiny. We are calling upon the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission (LRAC) to:
(1) demonstrate transparency by adhering to the Maryland General Assembly’s own Open Meetings Act;
(2) release the preliminary maps in a format suitable for quantitative analysis (GeoJSon) as soon as they are completed;
(3) hold multiple hybrid hearings, starting 2 weeks after the Commission releases its preliminary maps; and
(4) allow sufficient time for comments received at those hearings to be considered by the Commission—well before the start of the General Assembly’s 90-day session.
The LWVMD further calls on the LRAC to demonstrate its commitment to fairness by adopting standards, before its
process begins, that DO NOT:
● consider how individuals are registered to vote, how they have voted in the past, or the political parties to which
they belong; and
● consider the domicile or residence of any incumbent officeholder or potential candidates.
“In a democracy, voters must have the opportunity to pick their own legislators, not the other way around.” said DeborahMitchell, LWVMD co-president. “Trust between the voters and the people they elect must be nurtured.”For the first time a new form of public input is available: maps created by communities of interest (COI). The LWVMD requests that the LRAC reach out and gather COI maps from underrepresented communities and consider them in their mapping deliberations. Splitting communities is a form of voter suppression.
The LWVMD challenges the LRAC to use a dedicated website that both gathers information the Commission has released and provides information the public wishes to offer, a standard communications tool and form of transparency. At this point, the public does not even have contact information for the chair of the LRAC. Details of the LWVMD redistricting position, including background, is available on the LWVMD website.
For more information please contact Nikki Tyree at [email protected]
In April, our volunteer advocates submitted reports informing us which bills they were following had passed and which didn’t pass.
As reported at the time, 3 of the 4 policing accountability bills that passed and were sent to the Governor during the session were vetoed but those vetoes were over-ridden during session.
Another bill, HB 1372 Blueprint for Maryland's Future – Revisions passed during session and was on the Governor's desk for 6 days during which he took no action which meant it became law without his signature. The same process occurred with SB 786 Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Baltimore City - Control of the Police Department of Baltimore City and SB 683 Election Law - Voting - Permanent Absentee Ballot List, Ballot Drop Boxes, and Reports.
The fate of the remaining bills that were reported on that had passed and been sent to the Governor was not known at the time.
This is what has happened.
Protecting the Vote
HB 1048 Election Law – Permanent Absentee Ballot List, Ballot Drop Boxes, and Reports will go into law without the Governor’s signature.
HB 222 Election Law – Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration and Voting (Value My Vote Act) will go into law without the Governor’s signature.
HB 156 Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act will go into law without the Governor’s signature.
HB 183 Public Information Act – Revisions (Equitable Access to Records Act) will go into law without the Governor’s signature.
HB 133 State Finance and Procurement - Appropriation Reductions (Board of Public Works Budget Reduction Clarification Act) was vetoed by the Governor.
SB 66 Digital Connectivity Act of 2021 was signed into law by Governor.
HB 18 Landlord and Tenant-Residential Tenants-Right to Counsel will go into law without the Governor’s signature.
HB 114-Transportation - Maryland Transit Administration Funding and MARC Rail Extension Study (Transit Safety and Investment Act) was vetoed by the Governor.
SB 199 Maryland Transit Administration - Funding (Transit Safety and Investment Act) was vetoed by the Governor.
SB 137 - Maryland Transit Administration – Conversion to Zero–Emission Buses (Zero–Emission Bus Transition Act) will go into law without the Governor’s signature.
The bills listed above that were vetoed by the Governor passed by enough votes to override those vetoes when the General Assembly next convenes. Advocates will be working to make this happen. The same is true of many of the other bills that were vetoed.
Clean Energy - Shari Glenn
SB 414 /HB483 Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021 was the major environmental focus this year of the League and dozens of coalition members. The legislation required the State to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2030; to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045; required the Maryland Department of Labor to adopt regulations establishing energy conservation requirements for buildings by July 1, 2022; and established a goal of planting and helping to maintain 5,000,000 sustainable trees of species native to the State by the end of 2030. The bill passed both chambers but died on the last day of the session. The bill will be back on the agenda next year with more time to reach an acceptable compromise.
HB 114 -Transportation - Maryland Transit Administration Funding and MARC Rail Extension Study (Transit Safety and Investment Act) Baltimore and other state areas that depend on Maryland Department of Transportation for transit have not had system maintenance funded for many years as a study in 2019 showed. This legislation mandates funding additional to anticipated spending from the Transportation Trust Fund for six years to address transit “state of good repair” needs identified by the MTA. The number of years to be funded has been controversial with reduced funding desired by the Senate. Status: sent to Governor.
SB 137 - Maryland Transit Administration – Conversion to Zero–Emission Buses (Zero–Emission Bus Transition Act) By prohibiting the purchase of any bus that emits emissions after 2023, this bill provides a timeline of bus longevity for the MTA bus fleet to transition to zero emissions. Status: sent to Governor.
HB 414-Southern Maryland Rapid Transit Project – Funding
Maryland has completed five major studies on the feasibility, need, and economic impact of high-capacity, fixed-route transit service to Southern Maryland, and despite the conclusion of every study repeatedly confirming that the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit project would vastly improve the quality of life for Southern Maryland residents, promote economic development consistent with smart growth, and advance the State's emissions reduction goal, the Maryland Department of Transportation has not moved forward with the project. HB414 requires the State to complete the NEPA study and, contingent on federal funding, provides for at least $5 million in matching state funds from the Transportation Trust Fund to do so. Status: sent to Governor.
HB 67 I-495 and I-270 Public-Private Partnership - Partnership Agreement - Requirements (Maryland Department of Transportation Promises Act of 2021)
This bill put in writing the promises that Governor Hogan and the Maryland Department of Transportation made about the expansion of I-495 and I-270. The amended bill passed the House but failed in the Senate. It is doubtful if it will be resubmitted next year.
In 2022, we can expect more social justice and zero-emission /electrification transportation bills.
Affordable Housing / Evictions: Ruth Crystal Team Leader
Of the many bills dealing with eviction and foreclosure that have been introduced this session, a housing justice coalition focused on 5 bills. Only one of those bills passed both houses:
HB18 Landlord and Tenant-Residential Tenants-Right to Counsel, will provide access to counsel for tenants earning up to 50% of area median income that are facing retaliatory evictions. Status: sent to Governor.
Many other bills were proposed in response to the COVID pandemic that has left many tenants struggling to pay rent – but differences between the House and Senate did not get resolved in time. We expect these issues will be addressed again in the 2022 session. These include:
HB52 Real Property- Eviction Actions- Alteration in Actions for Repossession would have required 7-day failure to pay notice by landlord filing for eviction and require the notice to include information about rental assistance, legal help, and contact information for the landlord.
HB1312 Landlord and Tenant-Eviction Actions-Catastrophic Health Emergencies would have made an affirmative defense available for ‘failure to pay’ evictions during a declared catastrophic health emergency and for 3-6 months after if tenant could show substantial income loss related to emergency. It would also have prohibited an increase in rent during the health emergency.
The federal American Rescue Plan will provide a second round of Emergency Rental Assistance funding to Maryland. Combined with the December COVID-19 Relief package, this will provide Maryland with $719 million in Emergency Rental Assistance funding. Eligible households must have a reduction in income or financial hardship due to COVID-19, demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability and have a household income below 80% of area median income. Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance. Application for assistance may be submitted by eligible household or landlord. The assistance program is expected to launch no later than May 1, 2021.
Police Accountability Nancy Soreng Team Leader
LWVMD, along with other members of the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, focused our advocacy on 5 reforms to policing:
- Repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR)
- Allow all investigations into police misconduct to be disclosed under the Maryland Public Information Act
- Pass a law prohibiting the use of force unless it is necessary (not merely reasonable), with both criminal penalties and the power for civil enforcement
- Give the people of Baltimore City the ability to govern the Baltimore City Police Department
- Take armed police officers out of schools
5 bills ultimately passed which incorporated 4 of these reforms.
HB 670: Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021- Police Discipline and Law Enforcement Programs and Procedures was originally called the Police Reform and Accountability Act of 2021 and contained numerous recommendations from the Police Accountability Workgroup that was appointed by Speaker Jones in the summer of 2020. The most significant reform in HB 670 was the repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR) and creation of a statewide discipline process for police officers. Under this provision each county will have a Police Accountability Board (PAB) that will among other duties, receive complaints of police misconduct filed by members of the public and appoint civilian members to charging committees and trial boards. Status: Vetoed by Governor, veto overridden during session.
SB 178: Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 – Search Warrants and Inspection of Records Relating to Police Misconduct (Anton’s Law) was originally called Public Information Act - Personnel Records - Investigations of Law Enforcement Officers (Anton's Law). Passage of this bill means that a record relating to an administrative or criminal investigation of misconduct by a police officer is no longer considered a personnel record which is non-disclosable by law. This legislation finally allows for the release of information relating to investigations of both sustained and un-sustained complaints of misconduct. Custodians may redact portions of a record that reflect the medical information of the officer, information relating to the family of the officer, and personal contact information of the officer or witness. However, this bill will allow for inspection of records that include relevant medical information about injuries sustained during the event under investigation. Status: Vetoed by Governor, veto overridden during session.
SB 71: Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Body-Worn Cameras, Employee Programs, and Use of Force incorporated elements of SB 626 Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Law Enforcement Officers - Use of Force, Reporting, and Whistleblower Protections that passed the Senate, but was not moved out of the House. SB 71 raises the legal standard to say force is only authorized when it is necessary and proportional, based on the totality of the circumstances. Officers must de-escalate when time, circumstances, and safety allow; intervene to prevent excessive use of force; provide or obtain appropriate medical assistance after a use of force incident; and document all use of force incidents. The bill also includes provisions for training and requires all local and state law enforcement officers to wear body cameras by 2025 with an earlier implementation date for larger jurisdictions. Status; veto override
SB 786: Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Baltimore City - Control of the Police Department of Baltimore City will put the question of giving the City of Baltimore control of its police for the first time since the 1860’s before the voters of Baltimore City in 2022 or 2024 for implementation in 2023 or 2025. In the meantime, it establishes an Advisory Board that is tasked with studying potential issues related to the transfer of authority. Status: sent to Governor.
None of the bills to remove, reallocate funding, or redefine policing in schools passed. Advocacy on this issue will continue over the summer and into the next session. Local and national initiatives are underway to continue to collect data on the impact of School Resource Officers (SROs) on students and school safety. Efforts to educate the public and legislators about this issue will continue.
League testimony on SB 178 - Public Information Act - Personnel Records - Investigations of Law Enforcement Officers (Anton's Law), HB 496 Primary and Secondary Education – Mental Health Services – Expansion (Counselors Not Cops Act), SB 627 - Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights - Repeal and Procedures for Discipline, HB 1089 Primary and Secondary Education – Expansion of Mental Health Services and Prohibition of School Resource Officers (Police–Free Schools Act), SB 626 Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 - Law Enforcement Officers - Use of Force, Reporting, and Whistleblower Protections can be found on the Testimony page of the LWVMD website.
Education / Blueprint for Maryland’s Future: Lois Hybl Team Leader
In 2020, the General Assembly passed The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (incorporating the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission) that among other provisions, adopted a new funding formula that increased the foundation formula and the funding weights for English Learners, special education students, and compensatory education. It also created a new calculation for concentrated poverty that can be used to support Community Schools. However, Governor Hogan vetoed the legislation in May 2020.
The education priorities for the 2021 General Assembly session were to override the governor’s veto of HB 1300 The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and to pass HB 1372 Blueprint for Maryland's Future – Revisions. HB1372 modifies implementation timelines, updates funding allocations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, establishes guidelines for use of federal CARES funds, and strengthens the language of the Blueprint. Status: sent to Governor.
The challenge for the coming years is to ensure that the “Blueprint” is implemented as intended.
The League also supported SB 66 Digital Connectivity Act of 2021 , which establishes the Office of Digital Inclusion and creates a digital inclusion fund to support capacity building and funding for broadband access to all 24 Maryland jurisdictions. Status; approved by the Governor
The League opposed bills (HB 764, HB 939 and HB 1113) designed to transfer public money to private schools. Efforts to reduce funding for BOOST (Broadening Options & Opportunities for Students Today) failed. BOOST provides scholarships for eligible students to attend non-public schools. The final budget included $10 million for BOOST Scholarships.