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TODAY at 1pm - Senate Hearing on Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Establishing Marylanders’ Right to Know Campaign Finance Information and Right to Publicly Financed Elections
For Immediate Release

Today, February 23 at 1pm, the Maryland Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on SB 895, a proposed constitutional amendment establishing individuals’ right to know in an open, timely, and transparent manner about how, when, and by whom money is spent and from whom money is raised to influence the vote of the individual for candidates for office and ballot questions; and establishing that a publicly financed election is a right of the people.

The proposed constitutional amendment would take effect if approved by voters in the November 2022 general election

Livestream of the hearing will be available here and here.

“In the post-Citizens United era, money is more pervasive than ever in elections throughout the country,” Common Cause Maryland Executive Director Joanne Antoine said in her prepared testimony. “When the Supreme Court allowed for unlimited independent spending, the Maryland legislature responded by tightening up transparency and reporting of those donations when it passed the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2013. SB 895 is an attempt to respond to the latest Supreme Court decisions with the same increase in transparency, specifically protecting the reforms we have put in place.”

“Public campaign financing programs… lift up regular Marylanders’ voices, and empower those with community-supported ideas who may not have connections to deep-pocketed interests. SB 895 protects these existing programs and future efforts to establish programs at the state and local level,” Antoine said.

“In recent years, the Supreme Court has made a series of decisions that have upended aggregate campaign limits and unleashed virtually limitless amounts of money into the political process via independent expenditures, laying the groundwork for what is now known as super-PACs and driving a rise in mega-donor campaign spending at all levels of government,” Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr said in her prepared testimony. “Enshrining these rights in the Maryland Constitution will demonstrate a significant and meaningful commitment to these principles to the Supreme Court and protect Maryland’s laws from legal attacks.” 

“Small donor public campaign financing programs allow candidates to run for office with small donations from their constituents and remain competitive with those who accept large and corporate contributions,” Scarr said. “Enshrining public campaign financing programs in the Maryland Constitution will be better for candidates and elected officials, better for the public, and better for Maryland.”

Read Antoine’s full written testimony here.
Read Scarr’s full written testimony here.

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