Environmental Grades Are In For State Legislators Buoyed by leadership, scores are up

Annapolis, MD. Today, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters released the 12th Edition of its General Assembly Scorecard announcing the environmental voting records of state legislators. The publication rates individual legislators on a series of important environmental votes cast over the past two years.

“Aided by strong scores from the House and Senate leadership, the environment fared better over the past two sessions,” said Susan Brown, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “Average grades are slightly higher but disturbing trends continue, such as the growing gap between the political party averages.”

The Scorecard rates votes on important conservation issues impacting Maryland such as cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, encouraging smart growth, stopping air pollution, protecting coastal bays and critical areas and promoting clean energy.

The Maryland LCV is the nonpartisan political voice of the state’s environmental community and regularly issues report cards on the performance of state legislators and the governor. The Maryland League of Conservation Voters has been keeping score for the environment since 1979 and is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the state’s environmental watchdog this year.

“This year I am happy to announce that the Maryland LCV will be more than doubling our production of the Scorecard and expanding its distribution to get this critical information into the hands of thousands of Maryland voters in every area of the state,” said J. Charles Fox, the new Chairman of the Maryland LCV Board of Directors. “Marylanders care deeply about protecting our environment and quality of life and expect the same from their representatives.”

Officials from the Maryland LCV noted several trends affecting overall scores including the growing gap between the scores for Republicans and Democrats with Republicans scores continuing a downward trend. Additionally, the leadership of both the House and the Senate saw increases in scores leading to stronger scores for the entire General Assembly.

Trends & Regional Totals The Scorecard shows that overall scores for the General Assembly were up slightly from the previous Scorecard: 73% House average (up from 66%) and 68% Senate average (up from 60%). Continuing a disturbing trend, the scores show a growing gap between voting patterns of Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans on average scoring less than half that of Democrats in both houses. Republicans scored 72 points behind their Democratic colleagues in the Senate and 60 points behind in the House. Maryland LCV officials worry that votes on the environment are becoming increasingly partisan in a state where environmental protection has had a strong non-partisan tradition.

Support for environmental issues crosses all areas of the state indicated by the fact that there are 100% legislators from most of the state’s 24 jurisdictions representing the majority of the population.

Senators from Harford County scored the lowest in the state with a 4%. The most improved delegation is the Southern Maryland Senate delegation where the scores went from a 68% to an 87%.

The Maryland League lauded the legislators with 100% scores. A 100% score indicates a strong voting record in support of the environment on key floor and committee votes. The Maryland LCV recognized that the exceptional scores of the General Assembly leadership with a 100% for Speaker Mike Busch and 92% for President Mike Miller.

Maryland LCV officials note that the voting chart doesn’t tell the whole story and decried the lack of votes on key environmental issues – particularly transportation issues like the Intercounty Connector and funding for open space protection. “A scorecard can only evaluate the votes that are cast and, in this particular scorecard, there is distinct dearth of meaningful votes on these critical issues, noted Terry Harris, Maryland LCV Board Member. “We intend to continue to press for accountability in these important areas before the next election so voters will know the full score for their legislators.”

The comprehensive Scorecard also includes 21 committee votes spread over 7 different committees. “In Annapolis, committee votes are at least as important as floor votes, so we count them all,” added Harris.

The Legislative Scorecard is based on public information from Maryland General Assembly records with input from leaders of Maryland’s conservation community. The votes included are on bills, resolutions, appointments, amendments and committee votes considered important because of their potential impact on the state’s environment. These particular votes, chosen by the Maryland LCV’s Board of Directors, tend to offer legislators politically difficult but environmentally clear choices on a wide range of important conservation issues.

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters is the nonpartisan political voice of the state’s environmental community by promoting environmentally responsible candidates for public office, holding our officials accountable, advocating for sound conservation policies and educating voters. The Maryland LCV is committed to making environmental protection and restoration a top priority for the state’s elected officials, political candidates and voters.

The full scorecard is available on-line at www.mdlcv.org or by calling 410-280-9855.

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