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 2010 session. Find background and other details for any bill by entering its number at http://mlis.state.md.us/#bill
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 681
Voluntary, public funding of General Assembly races would take power away from the insurance companies, electricity monopolies and other special interests that write big campaign checks to politicians and return power to regular voters. It is already law in three states where it works great. PM and allies counted enough votes to pass this reform on the Senate floor, whence it would go to a pro-reform House for speedy passage. But Senate President Mike Miller – who championed this reform last year – bottled the bill up in committee.
- Protecting Free Activist Speech Against SLAPP* Suits – HB 1250
This law now protects neighborhood and environmental activists from *Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suits used increasingly by developers to intimidate them into backing off opposition to new controversial projects.
- Combined Reporting – SB 354/HB 584
This bill would have enacted Combined Reporting, as 23 other states have already done, which closes the loopholes by which big multi-state corporations evade Maryland income taxes. The Comptroller's office reported in March that Combined Reporting would have brought in as much as $197 million in revenue in 2006 and $144 million in 2007 had it been law. But to appease the multi-state corporations that write big campaign checks to politicians, our lawmakers decided to forego this revenue, resulting in more cuts to programs vital to working families.
- Early Learning for Young Children – SB 758/HB 350
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, which passed, to keep Maryland well positioned to pull down copious federal funding to expand quality, affordable early learning programs for young children.
- Early Learning for Young Children – SB 759/HB 419
This bill, a companion measure to SB758/HB350, would have improved how Maryland monitors the progress of early childhood programs – a change that would have further improved Maryland’s odds of winning federal grants for early learning programs. But inexplicably Sen. C. Anthony Muse (Dem. – Prince George’s) killed the bill when unrelated amendments he tried to attach to the bill on the final day of the session so slowed down floor action that time ran out before a vote could be taken on the bill.
- The Healthy Retail Employee Act – SB 789/HB1299
All workers of course deserve a chance to rest every few hours on the job. This bill, which passed, ensures that workers in retail establishments who work four straight hours get at least a 15 minute rest break and workers who work six straight hours get a 30 minute rest break.
- Collective Bargaining Rights for Child Care Providers – SB 264/HB 465
As most brain growth occurs before the age of five, it is vital that young children grow up in a nurturing, learning-rich environment. For this reason, it is hard to imagine a more important profession than child care provider. Yet these skilled professionals are often woefully underpaid. The General Assembly passed a bill to make permanent a 2007 Executive Order giving them collective bargaining rights. Thanks to their representation by SEIU, thousands of child care providers in our state now have a permanent right to collectively bargain for better pay, which will boost salaries and thus help attract the best qualified people to this vital profession.
- Fairness in Negotiations Act – SB 590
The FINA act creates a statewide Public School Labor Relations Board to improve the efficiency of the bargaining process for teachers, better administer workplace rules, and better adjudicate personnel disputes, all of which will help keep Maryland’s K-12 system top-ranked in the nation.
- Backdoor Vouchers Bill (BOAST) – SB 385 (No House scores*)
This bad bill would have given a tax credit to businesses that donate to private schools – in effect, taxpayer dollars for unaccountable private schools. *Thankfully, the House Ways & Means Committee, led by its stellar Chairwoman Sheila Hixson, killed this backdoor voucher bill in committee.
Find background and other details for any bill by entering its number at http://mlis.state.md.us/#bill.
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.