115 Lawmakers Earn Perfect Scores from PIRG for 2019 Session

    Two-thirds of the Maryland General Assembly – all Democrats – received a perfect score on a new report card from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

    The liberal advocacy group’s report card reflects votes during the 2019 Maryland General Assembly session on bills addressing public health, the environment, voting and transportation.

    All but one Democratic senator earned a 100 percent score. Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) received an 83 percent score, having voted against a Styrofoam ban. Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) was not considered in the scorecard because he was deployed on military duty for some votes at the end of the legislative session.

    Two Republicans in the Senate chamber also earned 83 percent scores: Edward R. Reilly of Anne Arundel County and Christopher R. West of Baltimore County.

    In the House of Delegates, 14 Democrats were shy of a perfect score. Most voted against one of the group’s priorities or were absent for a vote. Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-Eastern Shore) had the lowest score among Democrats, 38 percent, voting no on four of the bills measured by PIRG and missing a vote on a fifth. Two Republicans ― Dels. Richard K. Impallaria (Baltimore and Harford) and Trent Kittleman (Howard and Carroll) ― received zeroes from the group.

    The report card was based on six votes that were held in both chambers:

    • The “Keep Antibiotics Effective Act,” which banned the routine use of antibiotics on animals that aren’t sick and required data collection about antibiotic use on state farms. The bill became law without the signature of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

    • A measure to create grant programs to help schools remediate lead in drinking water. The bill passed both chambers unanimously. Hogan signed the bill. (Lawmakers who received zeroes on the scorecard were absent for the vote.)

    • Same-day voter registration on Election Day. The bill also became law without Hogan’s signature.

    • A ban on single-use foam food containers. The bill became law without Hogan’s signature.

    • A student loan protections bill, which prohibits loan servicers from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices and guides the application of payments on loans. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and was signed by Hogan.

    • A bill to create a grant program to help school systems shift to electric buses. Hogan signed the bill.

    All lawmakers were graded based on their votes on those measures.

    In the House, the scoring system considered two additional bills, which passed that chamber but failed to move forward in the Senate:

    • A bill which would have required additional assessments of the environmental and financial impact of public-private partnerships on major transportation projects.

    • A ban on chlorpyrifos, an insecticide.

    PIRG is circulating the report card to members and distributed it door-to-door during a summer outreach campaign. The full report is available online.

    [email protected]

    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.