Media Contact

Meredith Curtis Goode, ACLU of Maryland, 443-310-9946, media@aclu-md.org  
 
April 29, 2019

Broad Coalition Offers Chance for Candidates to Publicly Support More Transparent, Accessible Legislative Process

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Alarmed that the remaining candidates to be the next Speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates have so far not responded to a candidate questionnaire sent on April 18 requesting each candidate’s position on legislative good governance principles – transparency, accessibility, and decentralization of power – a broad and large coalition of advocates, social justice organizations, and community leaders are speaking out about the importance of strengthening our state’s legislative process. 

Many of the groups represent Marylanders who have traditionally been marginalized and voiceless in our legislative process. They are not “special interests,” as Delegate Derek Davis (D-Prince George’s) characterized them when he said at a press conference on Friday that he did not intend to respond to the questionnaire. Delegate Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) has failed to respond to the questionnaire, although the deadline was last Wednesday, April 24. Delegate Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) said she would not respond to the questionnaire a few days before she announced she was ending her candidacy and supporting Del. Davis. 
 
Good governance questions featured in the candidate survey:
  1. Accessibility. How would the candidates ensure civic participation and governmental accountability? Many Marylanders who are eager to engage in our civic processes are currently unable to do so because of existing structural and technological barriers. Many people cannot afford time away from work to travel to Annapolis and spend the day, and for some Marylanders with mobility challenges, physical presence to observe meetings and voting sessions is simply not practical. 
  2. Transparency. How would the candidates make it easier for Marylanders to know what is in a bill and how their state legislators voted? Another problem is a deeply troubling trend of multiple pieces of legislation—often unrelated and even with opposing intent—being combined into a single bill. This blocks Marylanders from knowing which provisions are supported or opposed by their state elected leaders.
  3. Decentralization of Power. How would the candidates address the concentration of legislative power that results from some delegates holding multiple positions? This harms Marylanders whose representatives have not occupied leadership roles, and is exacerbated by the lengthy terms for which individuals occupy leadership roles. The questionnaire also asks the candidates whether they will appoint chairs and vice chairs of committees who have demonstrated a commitment, through actual policy-making, to economic, social and racial justice. 
Joanne Antoine, Executive Director, Common Cause MD:
“We are concerned by the lack of information being provided by the candidates. It sends the wrong message to Maryland residents who are already sick and tired of decisions being made behind closed doors without their input. Transparency is necessary in this race, which will decide how our legislative process is going to be governed for years to come. We urge all of those interested in becoming the next Speaker of the House to complete the questionnaire.”
 
Julie Magers, Coalition Leader, Maryland Prisoner’s Rights Coalition:
“It is disheartening and disturbing to see the lack of response to a simple and justifiable request for transparency from candidates vying for a position of leadership as important and pivotal as the Speaker of the House. When legislative representatives in practice are meant to work on behalf of and in the best interest of their constituents, it is imperative to be fully inclusive and engage all constituents. It is even more disturbing that Delegate Davis has stated that it is dangerous to allow ‘special interest groups’ to have a voice in the process and that this is an ‘internal House of Delegates issue’. Our organizations represent hundreds of thousands of Maryland constituents and most of them are marginalized communities. Our legislature has a civic duty to provide transparency and to fully engage ALL constituents in the process.”
 
Bob Muehlenkamp, President, Our Revolution Maryland:
“Transparency and accountability are the bare minimum that Maryland citizens expect from candidates running for speaker. It is disappointing that the candidates have not yet responded, and we urge them to do so.”
 
 
COALITION
1199SEIU
ACLU of Maryland
Advocates for Children and Youth
CASA
Common Cause Maryland
FreeState Justice
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle
Inter-Faith Action for Human Rights
Life After Release
Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform
MDDC Press Association
Maryland Justice Project
Maryland Prisoners' Rights Coalition 
NAACP—Maryland State Conference
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
Our Revolution Maryland
Out for Justice
SEIU Local 500
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Baltimore

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