Maryland State House
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2020 Legislative Scorecard

See how your legislators voted on key public interest priorities.

In March 2020, as COVID-19 surged in Maryland and across the country, the Maryland General Assembly wrapped up the 2020 legislative session weeks earlier than expected. While the public health crisis meant some of our legislative priorities didn’t make it through, we were were able to move the ball forward on several public interest issues.

Maryland PIRG worked successfully with the Maryland General Assembly to pass bills that will protect consumers and safeguard public health. Some of these bills are now law, and others were vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan. To check your legislators' scores, you will need to check who represents you in Annapolis.

We had tough fights this year. We took on the chemical industry, big tobacco, and big tech companies. We certainly didn't win on everything, but with the support of our members we will continue to do research, public education, organizing, and advocacy to deliver tangible results that benefit all Marylanders. 

1. New law: Family and Firefighter Protection Act

This law restricts the use of flame retardant chemicals in furniture, mattresses and children’s products. These chemicals are not effective for fire safety. Commonly used chemical flame retardants are linked to cancer and other health impacts. 

This Maryland PIRG backed bill took years to win, The bill was sponsored by Sen. Guy Guzzone and Delegate Bonnie Cullison and was championed by Maryland firefighters and public health advocates, including the Professional Fire Fighters of Maryland, the Maryland Fireman's Association, Maryland PIRG and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The bill passed with strong bipartisan support. You can read our testimony here.

fizkes and Gorodenkoff via Shutterstock.com

fizkes and Gorodenkoff via Shutterstock.com

2. Vetoed: Increase and Expand the Tobacco Tax

This bill increases the tobacco tax and creates tax parity for all tobacco products including electronic cigarettes. It was sponsored by Sen. Cory McCray and Del. Eric Luedtke.

While the bill passed both chambers, it was then vetoed by Governor Hogan.  You can read our testimony here. In 2021 we are calling on the legislature to override the Governor's veto.

3. Safe School Drinking Water Act

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects how our children develop, learn, and behave.  Across Maryland, testing is revealing lead in the drinking water in our schools after a 2017 law mandated comprehensive testing. This bill strengthens protections for lead in school drinking water by lowering the action level to 5ppb. 

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Cory McCray and Del. Jared Solomon. In 2019 it passed the House but not the Senate. In 2020, the bill passed the Senate, but did not receive a vote on the House floor. You can read our testimony here. In 2021 we are working to ensure this bill becomes law.

4. Vetoed: Ban Chlorpyrifos

This bill bans the use of the toxic insecticide chlorpyrifos. It was sponsored by Sen. Clarence Lam and Del. Dana Stein.

A version of this bill passed which included a four year sunset clause.  The bill was then vetoed by Gov. Hogan. You can read our testimony here. In 2021 we are calling on the legislature to override this veto.

5. Student Voter Empowerment Act

This bill gives Universities and Colleges the necessary tools to increase civic engagement and participation in democracy among young voters. It also requires large Universities to have a polling location on campus.

The bill was sponosred by Sen. Clarence Lam and Del. Eric Luedtke. In the Senate, this bill was voted down in CommitteeA version of this bill did pass the house, which would have required Maryland Universities to have a plan for student voting and a student voting coordinator to help students and student groups navigate voter registration and voting. You can read our testimony here. In 2021 we are again calling on the legislature to move forward with policy to increase student voter participation.

Photo taken by staff.

6. Maryland Fair Elections Act

This bill creates a small donor campaign finance program for statewide offices that enables candidates for Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General to run for office without large or corporate campaign contributions by providing limited matching funds for small donations. 

Sen. Pinsky and Del. Feldmark sponsored the bill. A version of the bill that applied for the Governor's race passed through two Senate Committees but did not get a vote in the House. You can read our testimony here. In 2021 we are workig to ensure we fix and fund the governatorial small donor public financing program and pushing for fair electioins programs for all state legislative and executive offices.

Creating a new way to fund races for Governor is incredibly important. As our 2020 report shows, the people and entities that donate to Maryland’s Gubernatorial campaigns are not reflective of Marylanders who are eligible to vote in these elections. 

7. New Law: Textbooks Price Transparency Act

Students in the midst of financial planning for college need access to the full cost and range of choices, including those related to cost of course materials. This bill provides students in the University of Maryland system with vital information about their textbook options by including information about which classes offer free or low cost textbooks in the course catalogue. Providing students this information while they are registering for classes allows them to make informed choices and financially plan.  

This bill was sponsored by Sen. Rosapepe and Del. Stewart. This bill is now law. You can read our testimony here.

8. New Law: Hospital Fee Transparency

This bill increases price transparency for “outpatient facility fees” which are separate from fees for professional service. This added transparency is essential to protect patients as consumers and to help address the increasing costs of healthcare in Maryland.       

The very least we can do about rising health care costs is make sure consumers can get prices for fees, services and treatment up front, to allow for more informed decisions about value, encourage price competition that could help keep costs in check, and create accountability for unreasonably high-cost hospitals and providers.

This bill, sponsored by Sen. Kelley and Del. Robbyn Lewis, is now law. You can read our testimony here.

Methodology

A 100 is the best possible score a lawmaker can receive on the scorecard; a 0 is the worst possible score. Scores are calculated by dividing number of votes with the public interest by total eligible votes.

In 2020 we scored 8 votes in the Senate and in the House of Delegates. All 8 bills we scored were bills we wanted to pass. In the Senate, 6 bills were scored by their floor votes, and 2 bills were scored by votes in committee. In the House, 6 bills were scored by their floor votes.

  • A plus (+) indicates a vote for the public interest on the bill.
  • A negative (–) indicates a vote against the public interest on the bill. 
  • Excused absences (E), are not counted towards score.
  • Not Voting (NV), an unexcused absence, is scored as a (-).
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