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BALTIMORE - Maryland Public Interest Research Group (Maryland PIRG) released its annual scorecard Wednesday ranking public interest votes taken during the 2020 legislative session.
In March, as COVID-19 surged in Maryland and across the country, the Maryland General Assembly wrapped up the 2020 legislative session weeks earlier than expected. The public health crisis meant many bills didn’t make it through this year, but the General Assembly made progress on legislation to protect consumers and safeguard public health. Maryland PIRG’s scorecard grades state legislators on their votes on the eight bills listed below, along with their sponsors and bill numbers:
- Family and Firefighter Protection Act, Sen. Guzzone and Del. Cullison (SB447/HB424)
- Increase and Expand the Tobacco Tax, Sen. McCray and Del. Luedtke (SB3/HB732)
- Safe School Drinking Water Act, Sen. McCray and Del. Solomon (SB992/HB1475)
- Ban Chlorpyrifos. Sen. Lam and Del. Stein (SB300/HB229)
- Student Voter Empowerment Act, Sen. Lam and Del. Luedtke (SB647/HB245)
- Maryland Fair Elections Act, Sen. Pinsky and Del. Feldmark (SB613/HB1125)
- Textbooks Price Transparency Act, Sen. Rosapepe and Del. Stewart (SB667/HB318)
- Hospital Fee Transparency, Sen. Kelley and Del. R. Lewis (SB632/HB915)
In addition, the scorecard reviews bills the group supported but were not scored and previews their priorities for the 2021 legislative session.
“We are particularly proud of the passage of the Family and Firefighter Protection Act, a law that will ban the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals in children's products, furniture, and mattresses. This Maryland PIRG-backed legislation was years in the making, and was supported by public health advocates and the Professional Firefighters of Maryland. Upon final passage, the bill garnered strong bipartisan support,” said Maryland PIRG state director Emily Scarr.
While three of these eight bills are now law, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed two of them and the Assembly did not pass the other three.
“In some areas our legislators fell short —the Student Voter Empowerment Act, which would have helped increase student voter participation, was voted down in a Senate Committee. And on other priorities, there just wasn't time to finish the legislative process safely,” said Scarr.
“I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish in 2020, but looking forward, our legislators can and should do more to address pressing problems that impact our daily lives. With the help and support of our members, we’ll keep pushing to protect public health, fight for consumers and to build a stronger democracy.”
Maryland PIRG is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests. For decades, we’ve stood up for consumers, countering the influence of big banks, insurers, chemical manufacturers and other powerful special interests.
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