Legislators hide behind flawed process

The Catholic Review (April 15 and 22) has discussed the defeat of the BOAST bill in the Annapolis legislature; it would have benefited non-public school children. The bill was never voted on by the entire House of Delegates, but was killed in committee.

What is missing from your coverage is any mention of the way our Maryland legislature is structured and actually functions. The power of committee chairs is enormous, and thus it is very easy to stop a bill at the committee level. Various non-members of a committee can go to the chair and say “I’d rather not have to go on record by casting a floor vote on this one, so please bury it.” Because of the routine success of that strategy, pro-life bills never make it, and as election time draws near, voters find that they’re unable to tell where a delegate stands.

Re the BOAST bill, incumbents are now able to say to their Catholic constituents, “I really wanted to vote for your benefits, but somehow it never came to a vote. I am on your side.” Then they can turn right around and go to an opposing group and say essentially the same thing.

In this way, accountability of the legislators has vanished. Unless a very high percentage of voters in the large population centers in Maryland become really irate, this terribly flawed system will not be reformed.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.