By the Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ own estimate, the 2018 General Assembly session “was a complicated year for the environment.”
Which undoubtedly made evaluating the legislature’s 188 members a difficult task for the green group this year. Nevertheless, the LCV last week released its annual legislative scorecard – “just in time” for the election, the organization said. Environmental groups celebrated the passage of bills boosting state funding for mass transit, cementing the state’s membership in a national climate organization, and increasing liability penalties for offshore drilling disasters, among others.
But some of the top green initiatives of the session went nowhere, including legislation to impose a statewide Styrofoam ban and bills to increase the state’s clean energy mandate.
“Disappointingly, we saw longtime elected environmental champions fail to support environmental priorities, or refuse to bring them up for a vote,” said Karla Raettig, executive director of Maryland LCV. “In particular, we are particularly concerned at the shelving of top environmental legislation, such as the Styrofoam ban. These bills are supported by strong community-led coalitions with broad legislative support that key leaders in legislative committees refused a vote on.”
For 2018, the LCV scored every legislator on six floor votes in the House and Senate. Certain members also were scored on half a dozen committee votes if relevant bills came before their committees. Twenty-seven of 47 state senators rang up perfect scores. Twenty-six were Democrats; Anne Arundel County Sen. Edward R. Reilly was the lone Republican. But several Republicans saw their scores increase considerably over previous sessions, led by Reilly, whose lifetime LCV rating was 39 percent.
Other Republicans who showed dramatic improvement were: Sen. Robert Cassilly of Harford County, who had a 50 percent lifetime score but got 80 percent this year; Sen. George C. Edwards of Garrett County, who had a 41 percent lifetime score but got 80 percent this year; Sen. Stephen S. Hershey Jr. of the Upper Shore (31 percent lifetime, 71 percent this year); Sen. Michael J. Hough of Frederick County (24 percent lifetime, 80 percent this year); Sen. J.B. Jennings of Baltimore County (27 percent lifetime, 86 percent this year); Sen. Justin Ready of Carroll County (28 percent lifetime, 80 percent this year); and Sen. Andrew A. Serafini of Washington County (30 percent lifetime, 80 percent this year).
The lowest score in the Senate belonged to Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-Baltimore County), who got 17 percent. The lowest Democratic score belonged to Anne Arundel County Sen. John C. Astle, 71 percent.
On the House side, 84 members got perfect scores – 83 of the chamber’s 91 Democrats, plus Del. Meagan C. Simonaire of Anne Arundel County. Other high Republican scorers included Dels. Robert L. Flanagan of Howard County (86 percent); Carl Anderton Jr. of the Lower Shore (83 percent); Mary Beth Carozza of the Lower Shore (80 percent) and Nicholaus R. Kipke of Anne Arundel County (80 percent).
Eighteen Republicans got zeroes from the LCV. Tied for the lowest Democratic scores, at 80 percent each, were Dels. Erek Barron of Prince George’s County and Kathleen M. Dumais of Montgomery County.
Maryland LCV has doled out dozens of endorsements in state races. “Once legislators return to Annapolis in January, Maryland LCV will be there to hold them accountable for their actions, or inactions,” Raettig said.