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Public Financing for General Assembly Campaigns
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by Cliff Terry | 2007

Bill for public financing of General Assembly campaigns fails by one vote in Maryland Senate.

“The main reason many politicians side with the polluters is their never-ending need for campaign cash. Public campaign financing will eliminate the influence of donors who want to weaken environmental laws, and it will shift power back to voters and volunteers,” said the Sierra Club’s national president a few years ago. Little has changed since.

A bill to provide full public funding for campaigns for the Maryland General Assembly passed the Assembly’s House of Delegates for the first time last year. This year, the Maryland Senate voted on the plan for the first time, and it failed to pass by just one vote.

The Baltimore Sun attributed the Senate defeat largely to the opposition of Senate president Mike Miller, whose reasons have been quoted variously as the plan’s cost, presumed voter distaste for it, and his belief that it would be bad for Democrats.

The Sierra Club’s Maryland Chapter has submitted testimony supporting similar bills for several years and presumably will again next year. Such groups as the Maryland Conservation Council, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the NAACP, and the AFL-CIO have also supported the bills.  The hard work and astute strategizing of Sean Dobson of Progressive Maryland has been indispensable every year in mobilizing support for the bill, and this year, staffers of a national group, Public Campaign, beefed up the effort.    

 

Cliff Terry is the Maryland Chapter’s Campaign Finance Reform Chair.

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