2008 Progressive Maryland Education
Fund's Legislative Scorecard
News Release & Summary
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A 100 is the best possible score a lawmaker can receive on the scorecard; a 0 (zero) is the worst possible score. The top item on this year's scorecard, Senate Bill 2: Progressive Income Tax Reform, is triple-weighted due to its historic nature. The next two issues, Campaign Finance Reform and Health Care Expansion, are both double-weighted due to their systemic nature, while the other six bills are single-weighted. A plus (+) indicates a progressive position on the bill while a negative (-) indicates a special-interest position on the bill. A plus (+) is worth full credit on that bill while a negative (–) is worth zero points on that bill, and an abstention is worth half credit. Excused absences and recusals do not factor into the score; not having to vote on a bill because it does not come up for a vote in committee or on the floor ordinarily does not factor into a lawmaker's score. Points earned on all the bills together account for 80% of a lawmaker's total score and the leadership score (described below) accounts for 20%.
2008 Legislative Scorecard Vote Descriptions:
Description of Scored Legislation and “Leadership Score”
- Progressive Income Tax – SB 2 from the special session
Senate Bill 2 from the 2007 special legislative session receives triple weighting in this year's scorecard because it was the most significant pro-working families tax reform in recent Maryland history – the culmination of years of effort by Progressive Maryland, the Progressive Maryland Education Fund, and allies to educate the public and policymakers about the importance of a more progressive tax structure. This bill addressed Maryland’s current regressive income tax structure by reducing income taxes on low and middle incomes while raising the income tax rates for incomes above $150,000 for single filers and $200,000 for joint filers. The bill also increased the corporate income tax rate from 7% to 8.25%, which is still lower than four out of the five neighboring states. In addition, it closed the “controlling interest” corporate tax loophole, by which corporations were avoiding state and local recordation and transfer taxes on the sale of real estate. When considered together with the “millionaires’ tax” passed in the 2008 regular session, Maryland’s newly improved income tax progressively raises income taxes on high earners by more than $300 million annually (recouping for Maryland a small fraction of the Bush federal tax cuts on high earners), while reducing income taxes on low and middle income Marylanders by about $170 million. In addition, the corporate tax reforms in the bill generate over $200 million annually in new funds for schools, transportation infrastructure, health care, and other vital public investments.
- Clean Money Campaign Finance Reform - SB 593/HB 971
This is the same campaign finance bill that passed the House of Delegates during the 2006 session and failed on the Senate floor by one vote in 2007. The bill strips wealthy special interests of their ability to turn private money into undue political power, which makes it possible for legislators to focus on legislation to benefit all the voters, not just the HMOs, utilities, pharmaceutical companies, and other special interests that disproportionately fund the campaigns of elected officials. As a systemic reform, this bill weighs more heavily than most of the other bills in determining a lawmaker's score.
- Health Care Coverage Expansion – SB 6 from the special session
The Working Families and Small Business Health Coverage Act, passed during the fall 2007 special session, raised Maryland’s national health care access ranking from 44th to 21st place among the states by raising the eligibility for Medicaid from 44% of the poverty level to 116%. This advance will give 100,000 more Marylanders access to health care, a significant portion of the 800,000 Marylanders currently unable to afford health insurance.
- Pay Equity – HB 1156
This important bill carries out the recommendation of the state’s Equal Pay Commission to improve record keeping so as to properly document race- and gender-based wage disparities.
- Flexible Leave Act – HB 40/SB 344
The Flexible Leave Act made Maryland one of the growing number of states that allow employees to use their sick leave to care for an ill family member, not just for themselves. The bill applies to private firms with 15 or more employees.
- Foreclosure Prevention Package – HB 360, HB 361, HB 363, HB 365
These bill were grouped together as an O’Malley Administration initiative to enable the state of Maryland to more effectively address the ongoing foreclosure crisis, which was largely a result of lax regulation of the mortgage banking market by the federal government. The bills attracted overwhelming bipartisan support, with only a handful of Delegates and just one Senator voting against any of them. Among other provisions, the package significantly lengthens the foreclosure process from 15 days to approximately 150 days, ensures that homeowners get better notice of legal action, makes it easier for the homeowner to pay what is owed to prevent the sale of the home, provides more effective criminal and civil remedies for mortgage fraud, outlaws foreclosure rescue scams, and adds consumer protections for people in default who are trying to sell their homes.
- Prince George’s Hospital – HB 1039
House Bill 1039 represented a major step forward in the multi-year effort to save Prince George’s Hospital Center and the other four institutions in the Prince George’s County Health Care System, which is owned by Prince George’s County and has faced financial insolvency due to its commitment to serving the health care needs of all the county’s residents regardless of their ability to pay.
- Shift Breaks – HB 654
House Bill 654 sought to mandate that all employers with 50 or more workers must allow their employees who work six hours or more a 15-30 minute break in the course of their work day, depending on how many hours they are working. Twenty other states have similar requirements setting a minimum length of time for shift or meal breaks, which is not specified in federal law. The bill passed the House of Delegates Economic Matter Committee on a 12-10 vote but was never brought up for a vote on the floor of the House of Delegates or in the Senate.
- Responsible Contractors Definition – HB 990
House Bill 990 sought to ensure that state contractors, in return for the privilege of receiving taxpayer dollars, follow high standards with regard to labor, health, safety, training, and wage practices. The bill was killed by the House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee on a vote of 20-3.
- Leadership Score
This category scores a lawmaker on the bulk of the General Assembly's work that happens behind the scenes and is crucial to the legislative process: whether a lawmaker works with progressive advocates to advance working-family legislation, lobbies colleagues in favor of these bills, speaks publicly in favor of them, and so on.
About the Progressive Maryland Education Fund
The Progressive Maryland Education Fund (PMEF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that, among other projects, monitors and reports on public policy issues of concern to working families and how lawmakers vote on these issues.
Printable 2008 Scorecards for All 47 Districts (Adobe PDFs)
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