March 1, 2019

Senator Lam Details Legislation to Expand Public Campaign Financing

Joined by advocates from the League of Women Voters of Maryland, Common Cause Maryland, the ACLU of Maryland, and the Maryland Association of Counties, Senator Clarence Lam (District 12 – Baltimore and Howard Counties) detailed his legislation to expand public campaign financing in Maryland elections in a Thursday afternoon meeting of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. The committee heard from Lam as he explained details of his legislation (Senate Bill 535) to extend state public financing opportunities to local Board of Education races. Current state law allows only for public campaign financing for elective offices in the executive and legislative branches of county government.

Noting that local Board of Education candidates can typically only raise a small amount of funding and often have a large geographic area in which to campaign, Lam noted: “It is virtually impossible to reach a meaningful number of voters with such limited resources.”

Continuing to cite an inability of Board of Education candidates to most-effectively campaign, Lam noted: “Results that come from these races are somewhat random and arbitrary.” He followed: “A (public financing) system set up like this would help.”

Joining Lam in his sponsorship of the legislation is Senate Majority Leader Guy Guzzone (District 13 – Howard County). The legislation is identically cross-filed in the House of Delegates with House Bill 147 and sponsored by Delegate David Moon. House Bill 147 was heard before the House Ways and Means Committee on February 5th and awaits a vote in that committee.

Having now also been heard in its committee of origin, Senate Bill 535 now awaits a vote of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.