HARD-WORKING, ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT

Making our roadmap a reality will take collaboration, coalition building, and hard work. We’re knocking on doors, making calls, attending community meetings, and holding town halls all over the district to earn the trust of residents and learn about the challenges they face. Once in Annapolis I’ll be doing the same work to build a coalition around the most pressing issues we face. As your State Senator I will never forget that legislating is about the hard-working people that we are elected to serve, not ourselves.

 

To that end, we need a plan for how to hold our government accountable and to ensure it is working for all of us. Voters should be able to quickly find out how legislators vote, when they attend hearings, and when they attend votes. All of this information should be on the General Assembly’s website, easily available and searchable. Government should be more transparent, starting with our representatives.

 

Just as the police cannot be relied upon to investigate themselves, it has become clear that lawmakers cannot be trusted to police their own colleagues. Maryland has robust ethics committees in its General Assembly but these committees are, at the end of the day, being relied upon to investigate their own colleagues in public. We will push Maryland to adopt an Inspector General, an independent investigator with the same broad powers of the ethics committees and a similarly expansive remit. We would pair this with stricter requirements for ethics training and conflict of interest disclosure. The findings of the Inspector General and conflict of interest disclosure should be freely and publicly available at all times.

 

Maryland’s procurement authority is split among several departments. While this ensures that the department most responsible is in charge of awarding the contract it also means that there is no easily accessible central repository of Maryland contracts. There should be one website where residents could find all of the information for a given contract, including the contract itself, the competing bids, and the entire selection process.

 

We also need to invest in greater public-private partnerships to reduce costs and improve government services. When the public and private sectors work together they can accomplish so much more than they might on their own. The private sector is generally more flexible than government can be but the public sector is able to bring together and focus resources in a way private organizations often cannot. We will work to create more opportunities for private groups to invest in proven programs supporting Maryland’s most needy families. The public sector should then reinvest the savings from these partnerships back into Maryland families. These partnerships will allow the public sector to use the dynamism of the private sector to better serve their constituents.

 

Maryland also needs to bring back a data-based office of accountability. The current administration has gutted its accountability office and moved away from the use of hard data to judge the success or failure of its various programs.[104] Keeping track of the numbers on government programs should be standard operating procedure at all levels of government, and Maryland is no different. Good management and accountability shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We should all seek truth in our understanding of how government is working for us.

 

In 2020 Maryland has an opportunity to end partisan gerrymandering. We will fight for the creation of an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission. We can make significant strides to remove politics from redistricting this cycle, and we should do so. Politicians should not be able to select their voters, voters deserve to make their own choices.[105]


Lastly, we will work to create automatic voter registration and lower the voting age to 16 so that students can begin developing voting habits while still at home and enrolled in our state’s public education system. This will help increase turnout and civic engagement from more residents at an earlier age.[106]

OUR PLAN

Catalogue legislator voting and attendance in an easily accessible and searchable database.

 

Create an Inspector General independent of the General Assembly with subpoena power and a broad remit.

 

Collect all Maryland procurement documents in a central database open to the public.

 

Bring back a data-based office of accountability and restore its budget to previous levels.

 

Create a non-partisan re-districting commission by 2020 to ensure that Maryland voters get to choose their representatives, not the other way around.

 

Lower the voting age to 16 so that people can develop voting and civic engagement habits while still at home and enrolled in our state’s public schools.

 

Institute automatic voter registration at MVA locations.

 

104 Wogan, J.B., How Stat Got Stuck -- in the Place That Made it Famous, Governing. April 2017.

105 Galen Druke (The Gerrymandering Project: California), FiveThirtyEight. Podcast Audio.

106 Lovett, Jon, Lower the Voting Age to Sixteen, Crooked Media. February 23, 2018.

Authority: Friends of J.D. Merrill, Josh K. Russakis, Treasurer.

P.O. Box 5685, Baltimore, MD 21210