The bills selected for the Progressive Maryland Education Fund (PMEF) legislative scorecard are the most important economic, political empowerment, and civil rights bills affecting working families that General Assembly lawmakers considered during the 2009 session.
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, Clean Money Campaign Finance Reform, is double-weighted because it is PMEF's highest priority, while all the other 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. If excused absences and/or recusals account for more than half of a lawmaker's votes, then that lawmaker is scored a N/A for the session.
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%.
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. The Leadership Score accounts for 20% of a lawmaker’s total score, with 0 (zero) the lowest possible Leadership Score and 20 the highest possible Leadership Score. (Read the detailed description).
Description of Scored Legislation
- Clean Money Campaign Finance Reform - SB 663
This proven reform – already law in other states – would provide limited public funding to qualified candidates for the General Assembly so they can run for office without relying on campaign contributions from banks, HMOs and other special interests that write big checks. Thanks in part to support this year from Senate President Mike Miller, there were enough votes to pass the bill. But on the Senate floor opponents succeeded in attaching to the legislation a poison pill amendment that fundamentally changed the bill, which in turn prompted several new supporters of the bill to withdraw their support.
- The Workplace Fraud Act – SB 909
Too many employers evade payroll taxes and workplace safety regulations by fraudulently misclassifying employees as “independent contractors”. Gov. O’Malley and Del. Cheryl Glenn submitted legislation to crack down on this type of fraud and thereby recoup for state government many millions of dollars in payroll taxes and restore workplace protections to many thousands of workers statewide. Despite ferocious opposition from big special interests, PM and allies succeeded in passing the bill into law.
- The Fair Share Act – SB 264
For many years, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has bargained for decent pay and working conditions on behalf of state workers. Yet some of the state employees who benefit from AFSCME’s bargaining do not belong to AFSCME and pay nothing to AFSCME for the better wages and benefits they win at the bargaining table. The Fair Share Act, which the Governor signed into law, authorizes AFSCME to negotiate and collect a “fair share” fee from non-members who benefit from union representation. This will make AFSCME an even stronger bargaining agent for state workers, many of whom deserve a raise.
- The Apprenticeship Opportunity Act – HB 644
The Apprenticeship Opportunity Act, sponsored by Del. Roger Manno and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. O’Malley. The Act requires most contractors on large State public works projects to participate in approved apprenticeship training programs for craft labor trades employed on such projects; alternatively, firms can opt to make payments into a new State Apprenticeship Training Fund. The Act will create valuable skill training and good-paying employment opportunities for Maryland youth, promote needed workforce development in Maryland’s construction industry, and improve project delivery for public works contracts.
- Prevailing Wage – Suits by Employees – SB 406
Decades ago, Maryland followed the lead of the federal government and dozens of other states by enacting a prevailing wage law to ensure that workers on state-funded construction projects get paid a decent wage. But too many employers simply ignore the law because they know the state lacks enough inspectors to enforce it. Sen. Joan Carter Conway and Del. Aisha Braveboy sponsored a bill to combat this abuse by strengthening enforcement through bigger employee back pay awards in cases of violation and other effective private enforcement. Both chambers passed versions of the bill late in the session, but leadership failed to make it enough of a priority to iron out differences before the session’s adjournment.
- Electricity Re-Regulation – SB 844
As monopolist BGE gouges ratepayers in metro Baltimore and monopolist Pepco gouges ratepayers at the DC end of the state, there are very few Marylanders who still believe that electricity deregulation, enacted in back 1999, is a good idea. Except, that is, in the House of Delegates, which killed a Senate-passed bill to require that most future electricity plants be put under regulation.
- Pre-K For All Business Plan – HB 184
A person's learning potential is strongly shaped early in life because 90% of brain growth occurs before the age of five. It is therefore vital that children younger than five grow up in a learning-rich environment. Unfortunately, thousands of Maryland families whose breadwinners work full-time cannot afford quality pre-K for their kids. Del. Tom Hucker and Sen. Nancy King sponsored legislation – passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor -- to ensure that Maryland has a comprehensive blueprint to create more high-quality pre-K for four-year olds. This plan will put Maryland in a better position to win competitive federal grants.
- Shift Breaks – HB 16
Del. Roger Manno on the House side and Senators Rob Garagiola and David Harrington on the Senate side sponsored a bill to require employers to provide a 15 minute rest break if an employee works up to six consecutive hours and a 30 minute rest break if any employee works more than 6 consecutive hours. Small businesses would be exempt. Who could oppose such a common-sense bill? The Maryland General Assembly, that's who. The bill did not even make it out of the House Committee which passed this bill last year!
- False Health Claims Act – SB 272
Approximately ten cents of every Medicaid dollar is lost to falsely submitted claims. SB 272, modeled on successful federal legislation, would give Maryland state government stronger tools to target those who intentionally submit false Medicaid and other health care claims and thus save the state millions of dollars. This bill died on the floor of the Senate even though it was supported by the Governor and enforcement agencies.
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.