Thank you to the 33,488 Maryland voters who voted for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen for President and Jeremy “Spike” Cohen for Vice-President in Maryland. The Board of Elections has now certified the official results and we earned 1.1% of the total votes cast. There are exciting possibilities for significant growth in 2021 and we encourage everyone to help us expand the message of liberty, build our party infrastructure, recruit candidates, rebuild our registrations, and raise the funds necessary to graduate to the next performance plateau.
We grow in stages. Every current outcome rests upon the efforts of prior generations of Libertarians. Every future result will depend upon the work we do now. In the language of sports; games are won by the hard work during the off-season.
Please be safe during these trying times and we wish you and your family a happy holiday season and New Year.
Everyone has their preferred issues for Libertarian advocacy and when people criticize the party, Libertarian candidates, or specific messaging, they often criticize the choice of issues. We often hear that we should instead be focusing on <insert favored issues> and sometimes people tell us why. Here is your chance to be heard before the messaging begins during the 2020 election cycle in Maryland. We have set up a Facebook group to discuss Maryland Libertarian issue selection and messaging in 2020. What issues do you think we should focus on in 2020 and why? While we can’t guaranty that our candidates will necessarily agree with the group’s conclusions, we’ll produce a report that is given to all the candidates and it will be used by our volunteers in messaging for the party in 2020.
Issue selection and the tenor/type of messaging used in politics is often contextual. Some messaging is strategic, some tactical, and others align with polling data about what voters deem important. Some issues are better raised by candidates, others by the party, and others in the context of legislative advocacy before the Maryland General Assembly. Some issues are germane primarily to Federal, Maryland or local politics. Some messages are ideological, some practical, and others primarily educational.
We’ll spend August and September discussing input from anyone who wishes to join the group. We will then poll the group on those issues and for those that are favored by at least 40% of the members voting, we will spend October gathering data to support the arguments on issues, gather polling data, identify target audience(s), work on creating “Libertarian Solutions” style messaging in support of the issues, and if we have time, a few other tasks to help “sell” the idea to the intended target audience(s).
In November we’ll develop an issue “one-sheet” with bullet point Libertarian arguments in support of those issues and develop any issue-specific strategic and tactical recommendations.
Finally, in December we’ll put together a report that can be used in 2020 by our candidates and party messengers.
We aren’t asking everyone who joins the group to do all this “work”, but they can help as much as they would like. What we need from everyone is their opinions on the issues, their preferred presentation, and the background information they reply upon in support of the advocacy. Libertarians are pretty good at offering opinions on issues, so we hope this group will include everyone who has an interest in impacting our messaging in 2020. We are in for a tough election in this next cycle because the partisanship of the duopoly and their supporters will be through the roof. But liberty is worth fighting for, so let’s do our best to get our issues before the voters in 2020 in as convincing and effective manner as possible.
The Maryland Libertarian Party summer picnic will take place on Saturday, August 10, from 2 to 6 pm, at the home of Dave and Renee Sten in Cecil County, MD.
The Stens live at 16 Partridge Lane in North East. Be sure to follow the signs to the picnic grounds.
The cost for the picnic is only $12 if you pay before the day of the picnic, and $15 at the picnic. No charge for children.
Click here to sign up for the picnic.
In addition, the minutes from the last Central Committee meeting (the spring convention) will be up for approval. Click here to read the meeting minutes.
The Libertarian Party of Maryland joined three other organizations in a letter in opposition to SB 970, a bill which would unnecessarily and inappropriately compromise the public accountability values of the Maryland Public Information Act by creating a dangerous categorical ban on the public release of some police body camera footage. Yesterday, the Judicial Proceedings Committee gave the bill an unfavorable report notwithstanding the House having passed the companion bill HB 767 on a 133-3 vote. We are hopeful that this will forestall passage of this legislation.
Below is a copy of the letter in opposition sent to the Judicial Proceedings Committee on behalf of the Libertarian Party of Maryland, the ACLU of Maryland, the League of Women Voters of Maryland, and CASA.
There is a balance to be struck between privacy interests and ensuring public accountability of police conduct. Body cameras have proven a useful tool to improve public accountability. The Maryland Public Information Act already provides a reasonable balance to protect body camera footage from violating the privacy of citizens. SB 970 would alter that balance and set a dangerous precedent that could further erode public transparency via the Maryland Public Information Act. We are grateful to the ACLU of MD’s leadership and tireless advocacy on this issue.
Our ballot access reform bill receives a hearing this Thursday, March 2nd, before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee. This bill would revise the way parties like the Libertarian Party of Maryland retains its legal status, requiring that we maintain at least 10,000 registered voters. Since we have over 20,000 registered Libertarians and our registrations are growing, we would effectively have guaranteed ballot access for Libertarian candidates to spread the message of liberty if this bill is passed.
What we need from you is to contact your Delegates by email to ask them to support HB 707 as soon as possible, but at least before Thursday the 2nd. Working with our coalition partners in the Coalition for Common Sense Ballot Access, we have developed a sample email that you can use. Follow this TAKE ACTION link to see how to identify your Delegates and their email links, sample language in support of the bill, and a “one-pager” that gives a basic description of the bill.
Note that support for HB 707 has been endorsed by FairVote Action and ballot expert Richard Winger.
Our party is again supporting legislation in the Maryland General Assembly that cures an inconsistency between the standards by which a political party originally qualifies as a recognized party and the standard to maintain recognition. It is this legal standard for party recognition that allows party candidates to be nominated and placed on the ballot, giving Marylanders an important additional choice when voting.
The amendment changes one of the two alternate standards for a party to re-qualify. Instead of requiring 1% of registered voters, the bill would require 10,000 registered voters, matching the petitioning requirement of 10,000 signatures necessary to form a new political party. It is a simple, two-page bill that changes one word.
Currently the LPMD is qualified to place candidates on the ballot through 2018 because our Presidential candidate received over 1% of the total votes cast in Maryland (Gary Johnson received 2.9%). Before that, we retained qualified status because our Gubernatorial candidate, Shawn Quinn, exceeded 1.5% of the vote, the first time a third-party had done this in 44 years. An alternative standard for party re-qualification is that the party have 1% of the total registered voters register as Libertarians as of the end of each year. To our knowledge, no third-party has re-qualified in Maryland through this standard. As of December 31, 2016, the registered voters necessary to reach the 1% threshold was 39,706. As of that date, Libertarians had 19,904 and the Greens 9,263 affiliated voters, so they would not qualify under that standard.
When parties do not re-qualify, they must petition to obtain 10,000 signatures of registered voters in Maryland as if they are starting anew, a time-consuming, laborious, and expensive process. The petitioning process is made more difficult because so many signatures are disqualified on technicalities, so that a party really needs to obtain around 15,000 signatures to ensure success. Our legislation makes sense because if 10,000 registered voters, who are not necessarily libertarian (in fact, most are not) can sign a petition to demonstrate that the party has a sufficient minimum level of support in Maryland, then having 10,000 registered voters affiliated with that party is more than sufficient to demonstrate that support. An affiliated voter has, by definition, demonstrated support for a particular political party. Therefore, the discrepancy between the 10,000-petitioning requirement to form a party and the variable standard of 1% of registered voters should be eliminated by replacing the 1% standard with 10,000 affiliated registrations.
We have helped form the Coalition for Common Sense Ballot Access with the Green Party of Maryland, Constitution Party of Maryland, and the Ujima People’s Progress Party. You can follow the coalition’s work on behalf of this bill on its website, Facebook and Twitter. The Coalition is seeking endorsements for this bill and has obtained its first endorsement from FairVote Action. If you have a relationship with any organizations you think might be willing to endorse this bill, please contact us.
We expect the bill to be filed by the primary sponsor very soon. It will be identical to the bills we supported in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
ATTENTION: EARLY VOTING IS OPEN IN MARYLAND. Now is the time to get out and vote for our great Libertarian candidates. Voter turnout is (and will remain) very high, so plan when and where you’ll cast your important vote. Governor Gary Johnson is our Presidential candidate. To learn about our congressional and local candidates, you can go to lpmaryland.org/vote/meet-our-candidates. Your vote is important! We appreciate your support!
Here is a list of early voting centers in Maryland where you can find where to vote in your county. The early polling centers are open today through Thursday, November 3rd, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The final election day is November 8th, but why wait until then?
Volunteers and supporters: Libertarians need to work on voter turnout just hard, if not harder, as the old party campaigns. What you can do:
- Obviously, vote yourself. If you are on social media, you can reinforce positive attitudes towards voting by announcing that you’ve voted for our Libertarian candidates.
- If you’ve had positive interactions with family, friends or co-workers about libertarians during his campaign, reinforce that with them by making the ask: please consider voting libertarian this election (or particular candidates if that’s been your prior discussion). The point is: reinforce with return messaging and then mention that early voting is open. They CAN vote for a libertarian NOW. It is no longer an abstract discussion of choice, but an act they can take now.
- Ask people to identify when and where they will vote. People who identify for themselves when and where they will vote are much more likely to actually vote, and this works best for young voters. Have the list of early voting centers handy so that if the person says they don’t know where they have to vote, you can give them their county locations.
- If you know of any libertarian supporters who may have problems getting to the polls, offer to help take them to an early voting center. Those who may have difficulty waiting in lines due to medical conditions can jump the line.
- Sign waving at poll location entrances can reinforce people driving into the polling center and traffic passing by.
- Working the polls: Asking members to support a third choice, or particular libertarian candidates (depending on the poll location-though obviously Gary Johnson applies to all), is proven to be effective at increasing the libertarian vote count at those polling center. Be positive, nice, and respectful! Some will want to debate you (rare, but happens) but are generally a waste of your time. They aren’t there to be convinced but to validate their own opinions. Be respectful, offer a counter-argument, but then let it go and return to positive messaging to other voters.
- Some will use the lesser-of-two-evils, “we can’t let candidate____ win”, type arguments with you. In Maryland, that is particularly silly at the presidential level. There is almost no chance that Hillary won’t easily win in Maryland. That fact free’s voters up to send a clear message about the values they support. If they support liberty, their vote is empowered by voting for a candidate that is the libertarian candidate. Adding another plus 1 to the old party candidates’s vote totals sends almost no message. If Gary Johnson get’s a higher than expected result, then media, politicians, and other voters learn that there is substantial support for liberty friendly candidates. Let’s play the long game!
Let’s go Libertarians!
Vote your conscience, your values, your interests:
Vote for liberty!
Libertarian volunteers, candidates, and supporters: please join us for an election night party to watch the returns, socialize, and celebrate the rising tide of libertarianism. Free admission, free appetizers sponsored by the state party, and a cash bar will be available. The party will be held at Tubby’s Diner and Liquors at 5701 Sandy Spring Road, Laurel, Maryland 20707, from 8 p.m. to midnight.
We will have a big screen TV for the returns and there is wifi for internet updates.
Localized Driving Instructions:
From 29 North: Take MD- Rt.198E Tubby’s will be less than 2 miles down, on your right!
From 29 South: Take MD- Rt.198E Exit. Go straight through circle. Turn left on 198E. Tubby’s will be less than 2 miles down, on your right!
From 95 North/South: Take MD- Rt.198W Tubby’s will be less than 2 miles down, on the left hand side of the road!
The Libertarian Party’s national office in Arlington, VA needs some volunteer help this Thursday and Friday, October 6 and 7th.
We received this message from Robert Kraus, Director of Operations:
We could use help Thur 10 am – 4 pm and Fri 10 am – 4 pm packing and shipping yard signs. We are several hundred orders behind at this point. We also need someone with large SUV or truck that can help us take stuff to Post Office as our usual carrier is out of town this week and the sub won’t come back to pick up.
Thanks in advance!
The address of the Libertarian Party’s headquarters is 1444 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.
Let’s help get those signs out to the rest of the country!
To our libertarian supporters:
Please remember that everyone must follow Maryland and local laws with respect to posting campaign signs. This is especially important with respect to placing signs on private property without the permission of the owner or on public property (including on public rights of way on streets and highways).
We don’t know who, but someone has been posting Gary Johnson campaign signs on public rights of way in Montgomery County. Such signs can create a traffic hazard as they may interfere with traffic control signs or otherwise distract motorists. While the signs being posted are not the type of signs distributed by the Libertarian Party of Maryland, illegal posting of campaign signs can result in the offender being cited and if found guilty, there can be very substantial fines.
It is great that libertarians want to spread the word in support of Gary’s campaign, but we don’t want any of our supporters to be cited for such violations and we also want to encourage only the lawful posting of campaign signs.
Leo Wayne Dymowski, the 2014 Libertarian candidate for Attorney General (as well as other prior libertarian campaigns), is the current nominee of the Libertarian Party of Maryland for Judge of the Baltimore County Circuit Court. Leo was a successful trial lawyer who now serves as hearing officer for the Maryland Parole Commission and would make an excellent judge in Baltimore County.
Today we are launching an effort to organize Maryland Libertarians at the local level. In most of our counties and Baltimore City, we have enough libertarians to support a local group that can bring the libertarian message to their communities.
If you’d like to participate in party activities but don’t want to travel too far, these local groups may be for you. If you want to demonstrate the efficacy of libertarian principles and policies to your local community, these local groups may be for you. If you want to help organize local libertarian social, education, debate or discussion events, these local groups may be for you. If you want to help support Libertarian Party candidates in your area, bring in new members to the party, register new Libertarians, or bring your own ideas to political organizing, these local groups are for you.
We hope to establish local groups in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties, and in Baltimore City. We’ll combine certain counties in southern Maryland (Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties), western Maryland (Garrett, Allegheny, and Washington counties) and eastern Maryland (Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester, Wicomico and Worcester counties). If we find that a county in one of the multi-county groups can support their own group, so much the better!
To join your local Libertarian Party group, you can sign up at lp.maryland.org/local-groups. Each group will have its own page on the website and its own Facebook page.
All organizations need strong leadership to successfully grow and reach their goals. We have a chair to lead in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, and Southern Maryland. We need a Chair for all the other groups. To be a chair of a local group, you must be a member of the Libertarian Party of Maryland and be registered as a Libertarian in Maryland.
Local groups are crucial building blocks for any party. They support candidates, create social events, raise membership, and generally get people talking about liberty and freedom. We want to work together to make these local groups the foundation for a bright, Libertarian future, and we need your help to make it happen.
Libertarian Party Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominees Gary Johnson and William Weld will be appearing at The Loft, located at 600 F Street NW in Washington, DC this Thursday, July 7, from 5 to 6:30 pm, to discuss their campaign.
There will be a live feed of Gary Johnson’s and Bill Weld’s speeches at the National Press Club, beginning at 1 pm ET. Click here to watch.
There will be a debate tonight, Wednesday, May 4, among the candidates running for chair of the Libertarian National Committee.
The debate is being hosted by the 1787 Network and Liberty Underground show, and will take place from 9 pm to 11 pm ET. This will be done over Google Hangouts and stream live on the 1787 Network YouTube channel.
Greg Bowen will be hosting and all four candidates, Nicholas Sarwark, Brett Pojunis, Mark Rutherford, and Charles Peralo, will be participating.
It is with great sadness that we report that Doug McNeil, a long time Libertarian and tireless advocate for improved ballot access and libertarian ideals, passed away on April 2, 2016. Doug was running for Mayor of Baltimore as the Libertarian candidate. A more detailed article about Doug and his impact in Maryland politics will be forthcoming.
Doug passed away from cancer and his death was noted by Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News. We offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
Matt Beers, the Libertarian Party of Maryland’s candidate for Congress in the 1st District, does a great job during his interview by Salisbury TV. Way to go Matt!
The 2016 Program Committee meeting will be held on Monday, February 29th, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. (or at the conclusion of the Executive Committee meeting held that same night, if later). The Program Committee meeting is the chance for amendments to be offered to the Maryland Libertarian Party’s Program. Only changes recommended by the Program Committee can be considered by the Central Committee at the Annual Convention. This meeting will be held at the home of Stuart Simms, 11614 Arden Court, Laurel, MD 20723.
The 2016 Annual Convention of the Libertarian Party of Maryland will be held on Saturday, March 12th at Squire’s Restaurant (upstairs) in Dundalk, Maryland. The convention program will begin at 12:30 p.m. and includes Dee Hodges of the Maryland Taxpayers Association (discussing how the Maryland budget process works, David Boaz, Vice-President of the CATO Institute, on “Reclaiming Freedom”, and Dr. Mary Ruwart on “How Libertarians can roll back big government.” There will be lunch and dinner bookending the State Central Committe’s official business, which includes the nomination of the Chairman and the Executive Board, voting on any motions to amend the State Party Program, the selection of the Maryland delegates to the national Libertarian Party Convention, and nominations for public office, as well as other official business.
The cost is $60 by March 4 (click Donate Now, on right side of webpage, or mail a check to Box 176 address); $70 at the door for full day attendance. Half-day price is $30 by March 4; $35 at the door (before 6:30 pm or after 6:30 pm only). Please notify Bob if you expect to come so that he can provide the restaurant a head count, plus you will receive a pre-printed namebadge. The Central Committee only meeting has no charge to attend.
Here is a link to a flyer with all the details. We hope to see you there!
You can watch their video coverage of Matt’s campaign at: http://www.wmdt.com/news/more-local-news/newest-candidate-to-enter-the-race-for-marylands-first-congressional-district/37670910
You can visit the Matt Beer’s campaign website at: http://www.beersforcongress.com/
Matt’s campaign Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/Beers-for-Congress-1941213389438…/…
Today, the Maryland General Assembly opens its 2016 session. The Libertarian Party of Maryland will be engaged in advocacy for and against legislation offered by the legacy parties. While we continue to win on many issues, we could do so much more if we had elected Libertarians who could sponsor bills and participate directly in the legislative process. Consider running for office as a Libertarian. For everyone else–vote Libertarian!
We will return for a third try with a ballot-access bill that would all but guaranty our continued party status and remove almost all risk of us having to petition. The bill replaces one of the standards for continuing to be recognized as a political party, changing the 1% of registered voters with a flat 10,000 registered voters (affiliated with the party). We have 16,843 registered Libertarians as of the end of 2015 and continue to be the fastest growing party in Maryland. We are qualified through 2016 because Shawn Quinn received over 1% of the vote in the 2014 Governor’s race. One method of re-qualifying after 2016 is if our presidential nominee receives over 1% in November. However, the alternative standard is reaching 1% of the total registered voters (approximately 38,000). If we failed to qualify via vote totals, we’d need 10,000 registered voters (regardless of party) to sign a petition, which because of validity rates, really means getting about 16,000 to 17,000 signatures The legislation proposes 10,000 registered voters to replace the 1% of registered-voters standard, because it matches the 10,000 petition signature requirement. If the purpose of petitioning is to measure a minimum level of support for the party in Maryland, affiliated voters is a much better measurement of that support than 10,000 petition signatures.
With the opening of the session, the legislature will consider any veto overrides. The Libertarian Party of Maryland urges the legislature to override the Governor’s veto of the marijuana decriminalization fix bill SB571, which decriminalized marijuana paraphernalia. We also urge the legislature to override the veto of the civil asset forfeiture bill SB578. Although SB578 provided only some relief to fix Maryland’s unjust system of civil asset forfeiture, it was at least progress.
We will continue our support for marijuana legalization, as well as support the Death with Dignity Act. We will be advocating for SWAT team reform and better transparency on the purchase of military grade equipment by police officers under the federal surplus equipment program. We will continue our advocacy of transparency and accountability with the Marylanders for Open Government Coalition. We will focus on the police body camera legislation, due to its important balance between protecting privacy interests and providing the greatly needed increase in public accountability of police activities.
Of the pre-filed bills, SB13 creates a reporting requirement for some military grade equipment purchases by police departments. Automatic universal voter registration is being considered in two bills. We must try to defeat the attack on Uber and other ride-sharing services included in SB54 (cross-filed as HB3).
As more bills are filed, we’ll provide a more comprehensive update on the pending legislation and committee schedules and give action alerts on what you can do to help. We hope any and all who care about libertarian issues will help us advocate for and against the legislation in the 2016 session. Let the games begin!
The Libertarian Party of Maryland endorses passage of a Death with Dignity Act in the coming spring session of the General Assembly of Maryland.
Introduced in the 2015 legislative session, the Death with Dignity Act’s core purpose is to allow a terminally ill adult resident of Maryland (those with a prognosis of six months or less to live) the freedom to choose to voluntarily take a prescribed dosage of medicine to aid in dying. The bill does not allow euthanasia, which would remain illegal. The bill contains significant procedural protections to ensure the individual is competent to make the choice, is making an informed decision, and is not subject to undue influence or coercion. We urge our supporters to take action to support this legislation as outlined below.
A person facing end of life decisions is confronted with an intensely personal choice, one at the very heart of the libertarian conception of self-ownership. Some may not agree with a person’s choice to expedite an inevitable death or with the morality of that choice. Still others believe it is the most moral of sentiments to exercise self-control in the process of their dying, to preserve their personal dignity. For libertarians, the key commitment is that the government should not prevent that individual’s choice with the force of law.
Though it may be renamed, the bill to be introduced in 2016 is likely to be very similar to the 2015 legislation, which you can read for yourself. Here are the bill’s key points:
Only competent, adult, Maryland residents who have a terminal illness can make this choice. The bill sets forth the means of establishing that these criteria are met, including a requirement that 2 independent physicians certify the diagnosis of a terminal illness, that the decision is voluntarily undertaken (no coercion) and the patient is competent (no impaired judgment, including depression).
The patient must personally and voluntarily initiate the process (it cannot be done through an agent, guardian, or durable power of attorney) and can rescind their decision to proceed at any time. The patient does this by making 2 oral requests for the medicine, with the second request made no less than 15 days after the first request. During the 15 day waiting period after the first request, the patient must also fill out a written form requesting the medication, witnessed by two people (only one of whom can be a relative, be entitled to a benefit from the patient’s death, or a person associated with the health care facility in which the patient is receiving treatment). There is an additional 48 hour waiting period between the signing of the request form and the writing of a prescription by the physician. After 48 hours, the patient can receive the medication but is under no obligation to take it at that time. The patient must be capable of self-administering the medicine.
The bill protects individuals, including medical providers and institutions, from civil and criminal liability for participating in good faith compliance with the procedural and medical protections of the act. The bill also allows physicians, health care facilities, and individual employees of health care facilities to elect not to participate in such services.
The bill makes it a felony to alter or forge a written request for aid in dying or to conceal or destroy a rescission of the required written request for aid in dying with the intent or effect of causing the patients death. It is also a felony to exert undue influence on a patient to make a written request for the purpose of ending the patient’s life or to destroy a rescission.
Finally, a patient’s death is not a suicide and is deemed a death from natural causes. Life or health insurance benefits, annuities or other contracts cannot be conditioned or affected by making or rescinding a request for aid in dying and such contracts made after the law’s effect cannot include a limitation or otherwise attach consequences to such. Similarly, the rates charged for a life, health, or accident insurance or annuity cannot be conditioned upon making or rescinding a request for aid in dying.
To learn more, you can review this Fact Sheet and Answers to Misconceptions about a Death with Dignity Law prepared by Compassion & Choices.
“This is a system that is incredibly slanted against the consumer and ordinary citizen,” says Peter Franchot, Maryland’s Comptroller. He continued, “We’re probably the worst, most regulated county in the entire country.” Libertarians agree with Mr. Franchot, that the government shouldn’t be in the liquor business.
Adam Pagnucco has done a great job exposing the failures of Montgomery County’s monopoly control over alcohol distribution on the Seventh State political blog. In Montgomery County, distributors must first sell to a county middleman, the Department of Liquor Control, which then sells to retailers after charging a markup. In addition, the DLC has a complete monopoly on the wholesale and retail sales of hard alcohol. Mr. Pannucco’s analysis must have really hit home, because it drew a response from Gino Renne, President of a local union that represents Montgomery County employees. Mr. Pagnucco then dissected Mr. Renne’s arguments with an excellent series of posts. The exchange is well worth the read and we are thankful for David Lublin’s Seventh State blog for raising the profile of this issue.
Local libertarians in Montgomery County should join the fight to help end this unsupportable government monopoly and get a ‘win’ to help improve the lives of county residents.
UPDATED: The date for this event has changed from 7/29 to August 6, 2015 at 7:00. Please mark your calendar.
Robin Grammer, a member of the state House of Delegates in the 6th legislative district (SE Baltimore County), will meet and address members of the Maryland Libertarian Party on Thursday, August 6th, 7 p.m., at the North Point branch of the Baltimore County library, 1716 Merritt Boulevard, Dundalk, MD 21222. This event is open to the public.
Here is a map of the location.
The program will begin promptly at 7 as we must end by 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday, July 18th, the Libertarian Party will celebrate the one year anniversary of its new headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The event will run from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Libertarian National Committee’s Nolan Memorial Headquarters, 1444 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314. The headquarters is two blocks from the King Street Metro station. Parking is available behind the building. Beer, wine and lite fare will be served. Admission is free though contributions to help pay off the mortgage of the headquarters are welcome and greatly appreciated. We hope you can join us.
Many local libertarians, including approximately 10 from Maryland, showed up to the grand opening last year. The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland plan on attending.
Note that many from the Libertarian National Committee will be present as the anniversary party follows a National Committee meeting at the Marriott Residence Inn, 1456 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 2231. Libertarian Party members are welcome to attend this meeting. That meeting should start at approximately 9 a.m. Parking at the hotel is at a discounted rate for people attending the meeting, at $15 for the day, however you must visit the hotel’s front desk before parking to obtain that discount.
Visit this LINK to watch a video of last year’s grand opening speech by Nick Sarwark, National Chair of the Libertarian Party.
UPDATED: The date for this event has changed from 7/29 to August 6, 2015 at 7:00.
Robin Grammer, a member of the state House of Delegates in the 6th legislative district (SE Baltimore County), will meet and address members of the Maryland Libertarian Party on Thursday, August 6th, 7 p.m., at the North Point branch of the Baltimore County library, 1716 Merritt Boulevard, Dundalk, MD 21222. This event is open to the public.
Here is a map of the location.
The program will begin promptly at 7 as we must end by 8:30 p.m.
David Moon, member of Maryland’s House of Delegates (20th Legislative District-Takoma Park) will meet and address the Libertarian Party of Maryland on Thursday, June 18th, 2015. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. and is hosted at the home of Stu Simms, 614 Arden Ct, Laurel, MD 20723. The event is open to the public.
Delegate Moon sponsored a ballot access bill this year that would have relieved the party from the necessity of conducting ballot access petitioning, by changing the ballot access standard to 10,000 affiliated voters for a party to maintain its official status. There are now over 15,000 registered voters who affiliated as Libertarians. Delegate Moon also co-sponsored a number of other bills the party supported in this year’s General Assembly session.
Delegate Moon will address ways we can work together on ballot access and civil liberties issues. This will be a good opportunity to hear from an active Maryland legislator on these issues.
Here is a google map link to the location of the Simm’s residence:
Here is a statement on the Baltimore riots of the last days of April 2015 from Lorenzo Gaztañaga, deeply concerned, politically active citizen of Baltimore and Maryland, candidate for Baltimore Mayor 2016, Libertarian.
I came to Baltimore in June of 1963. I graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in 1968, left Baltimore in 1970 and returned with my wife, Susan, in 1984 and settled here, where most of my family was and my friends from school. Living on Calvert Street in the late sixties, we experienced the riots of 1968. I certainly hoped that nothing like that would happen again. Sadly, it did.
Over the decades, Baltimore dwindled from a metropolis of almost 1 million people to a little over 600,000. Vast portions of Baltimore’s population are unemployed, in need of assistance, yet the government of the City of Baltimore has insisted on inflicting on this same population snack taxes, bottle taxes, and a continuing high property tax. Anyone of small means in the most economically depressed areas of the city finds the process of starting a legitimate business daunting, if not impossible. Baltimore laws and regulations are not aimed to encourage the most economically disadvantaged to find a way out of their situation, but rather the encouragement is aimed at helping the already large and well-off come and do business—not that many outside of hotels and restaurants actually do come.
One very legitimate complaint in the aftermath of our most recent riots is that our police department is heavily staffed by out of towners, people who, outside of their jobs and paychecks, don’t have a real stake in the community and don’t know the people in the community that they police. This is a serious matter, but one that won’t be resolved by merely making a law insisting that people who work in the police department have to live within city limits. This is not to say that an individual from out of town cannot be a perfectly good, professional police officer in Baltimore City. The situation, however, is severely lopsided and the results can be dire, at the very least in perception, which is serious enough, if not in reality.
How dire? Neck injuries during arrests are not necessarily unusual. The fact that young Baltimore men run and scatter off when they see police rather than stick around, since they are potentially the victims of automatic suspicion. Incidents that are well known of young men being stopped and having their pants dropped by police right in the middle of the sidewalk. This is bad enough. The role of the police is to protect and serve. If they are protecting anybody, then who is it? And what does that uncivilized, probably illegal behavior do to the honest, upright police officers currently serving on the force? Nothing good, certainly. Let’s be clear about one thing. This riot in Baltimore was not a race riot. It was a violent reaction to both perceived and concrete abuses of authority, specifically by representatives of the police department.
How can we help improve this situation?
- For one, better schools through actual school choice policies. Baltimore spends more than $17,000 per student per year, but the student achievement is the lowest in Maryland, lower than even some poor rural counties.
- Lower the property tax, currently more than twice as high as any Maryland county.
- Eliminate the short sighted and rapacious little taxes to death mentioned above.
- Put the thousands and thousands of units of housing stock on the market with a serious dollar house program.
Instead of doing serious work to make Baltimore City a welcoming place for the people who already live here at economic disadvantage so they can use their talents to create small businesses in their own neighborhoods, the clear appearance is that the actions of our Mayor evoke the image of Emperor Nero playing his favorite stringed instruments while Rome burned and bled. And let’s make this clear, this mayor, elected by less than 30% of potential voters—a civic disease in itself—is the mayor of intensely powerful special interests who care nothing about the citizens of Baltimore. The economically disadvantaged people of Baltimore do not need another government program, heavy in bureaucracy, pomposity and waste, yet doing little of whatever it is that it’s supposed to be doing.
In addition to that, the national policies insisting on the so-called War on Drugs for decades has been a war on the economically disadvantaged who, whether guilty or not, become the likely targets of an overcharged police department that, not without reason, in many cases feels under attack. This deadly national policy adds to the pain, destruction and corruption of places like Baltimore, and it doesn’t have to be. The dependent on drug abuse need medical assistance, counseling, healing for their souls and spirits, which is the real cause for why they end up where they end up. Every young Baltimorean that ends up arrested and in the criminal justice system because of violations of drug war laws and statutes for the most part quickly becomes the fodder of a jail system that’s really a college for crime.
Baltimore has been my home two thirds of my life or more. I cry when I see what happened. I’m deeply, deeply disturbed when I see the business of Baltimore City governing the same as usual with every indication of living out the dictum that insanity is doing the same wrong thing over and over again believing that eventually you’ll get it right. Baltimore has it within itself to be a peaceful, civil and prosperous place from the inside out. We need to pursue policies in this city that will open the door and get out of the way to let this happen.
God bless you.
With deeply felt sentiments towards my city,
Candidate for Mayor 2016
“I would like to start by saying that my heart goes out to all the innocent citizens in Baltimore who are being affected by this state of unrest. While I am not surprised that things are boiling over, these folks have no justification for the destruction of property that is going on. I pray that the young people involved realize that what they are doing is wrong and return to their homes. I pray that parents get control of their children. I pray that there is no loss of life on top of the property destroyed last night. I commend the police for not pulling their weapons and making this worse. I am sure in the days that follow we will see many arrests.
Many people are going to come out in the weeks that follow to point fingers at the leadership in Baltimore, the Baltimore police and the Governor of our state for their handling of this situation. The two party agenda has never let a tragedy go by unused. I however am refraining from pointing fingers at this point and hope that these folks are getting the message people are sending. This has been building for years. I am not in support of the military being used as a police force, but due to the reactive nature of our government officials, they have little else they can do at this point.
Unemployment, homelessness, high taxes, over regulation, corruption, the drug war and non responsive leadership have lead to this current situation. The answers are right in front of us. Our police need to live where they work. They must be involved with the community. People need to have a roof over their heads. They need to have jobs in order to take care of their families. They need to keep more of their earnings and not have the government steal for its own wasteful uses. We need to end the drug war. The city needs to become more friendly and attractive by lowering the tax rates, making it easier to start a business, getting control of the schools, and stop subsidizing programs that encourage dependency on the government. People with no hope have nothing to lose and will act accordingly. This is what is happening in Baltimore. Government needs to be proactive on behalf of its citizens, not just reactive.
In closing, I would like to reach out to the rioters and say that by destroying your community you will just make things worse. You can not get justice by treating others unjustly. I know you think you are venting, but you’re venting on people in the same situation as yourselves. You are giving government and police reasons to put their foot on your necks. You are making it easy for government to bring in troops. Listen to your community leaders and do this the right way. The peaceful way.”
2014 Libertarian candidate for Governor
Mr. Sarwark will be featured during the segment, and will be discussing the Libertarian Party – its history, principles, message, and composition.
The show is the network’s daily public affairs call-in program that is broadcast live on C-SPAN and C-SPAN Radio. Here is the video of Nick’s appearance: http://www.c-span.org/video/?325296-4/washington-journal-nicholas-sarwark-libertarian-party
Visit here for the LP announcement and a link to the show’s website:
Yesterday, Eric Blitz testified on behalf of the Libertarian Party of Maryland in favor of HB 626, a bill that would ease ballot access for the party. Identical to last year’s bill in the Senate, this year’s effort changes one of the methods the party can qualify to remain a recognized political party (and thus retain ballot access). HB 626, sponsored by Delegate David Moon (D-Montgomery), with co-sponsors Delegates Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City) and William Smith, Jr. (D-Montgomery), replaces the 1% of registered voters standard with a flat 10,000 registered voters affiliated with the party. Currently, the Libertarian Party of Maryland has 15,310 registered voters, so we would automatically qualify for so long as we maintained 10,000 registered voters. Say goodbye to ballot petitioning if this bill passes!
Also testifying in support of HB 626 was Delegate Moon, Brian Bittner and Daniel Robertson of the Green Party, and Jonathan Sherbert, a lawyer who has been involved in petitioning challenges. The House Ways and Means Committee appeared open to giving this bill serious consideration and we are cautiously optimistic. There is not yet a companion bill filed in the Senate.
On February 24th, Eric Blitz testified on behalf of the party as part of the panel of witnesses called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, seeking a favorable recommendation on the marijuana legalization bill (HB911). The witness panels speaking in favor of the bill also included Delegate Curt Anderson and David Fraser-Hidalgo (bill sponsors), Darrell Carrington (Maryland Cannabis Industry Association), Tim Lynch (Cato Institute), Rachelle Yeung (Marijuana Policy Project), Major Neil Franklin (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), and Sara Love (ACLU of MD), among others. After the panels, approximately 20 individuals and organizations testified in support of the bill, including Libertarian Scott Soffen, who was testifying on behalf of the Center for Urban Families, of which he is a Director (Scott ran for Congress in 2014 in the 7th Congressional District). This was a contentious hearing with a known opponent of marijuana legalization, Delegate Joseph Vallario, as the Chair. The legalization bill will also be subject to a hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (SB531) on March 4th, at 1:00 p.m. Most of the organizations on the panels, including the Libertarian Party, will testify again before the Senate committee.
Also on February 24th, Eric Blitz of the Libertarian Party testified in support of HB374, HB124 and HB615, all before the House Judiciary Committee. The first bill creates a right to expunge criminal convictions for those previously convicted of possession of the now decriminalized amount of less than 10 grams of marijuana, the second is broader, allowing expungement of all crimes which are no longer crimes, and the third bill makes it so that the now decriminalized possession amount cannot be used by the parole and probation officials to issue warrants or notices of violation if that is the only basis for the violation.
The Maryland General Assembly is considering nine bills focusing on marijuana, three of which are top advocacy priorities for the Libertarian Party of Maryland and its coalition partners in the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland. If you want to expand liberty with respect to marijuana in Maryland, now is the time to make your voice heard!
We need you to send letters, emails, or place calls to your representatives, letting them know your position on our priority bills. You can also come to Annapolis to testify before the relevant committees. The hearings on these bills are set for this Tuesday, February 24th, at 1:00 p.m. before the House Judiciary Committee and March 4th at 1:00 p.m. before the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. To help, visit our new TAKE ACTION page.
Below is a review of the legislation:
Legalization! SB531/HB911 are almost identical to the 2014 legalization bills. They legalize the use, possession, growth and distribution of marijuana in Maryland, similar to the Colorado law. The bills repeal many of the critical civil and criminal prohibitions on marijuana. There are of course important limits, as well as a taxation and regulation scheme. However, this legislation is an incremental step in the right direction and is the outer limit of what is politically possible at this time. The Libertarian Party of Maryland and the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland supports passage of these bills. Here are the key elements of the bill (note that there are detailed exceptions and limitations to many of these points):
Allows adults 21 years or older to:
Possess up to an ounce of marijuana.
Personal growth of up to six plants and possession of all of the marijuana produced by those plants.
Possess, produce, and sell paraphernalia.
Allows for four kinds of registered, regulated marijuana businesses:
Marijuana cultivation facilities.
Marijuana product manufacturers (includes foods, salves, and other products infused with marijuana).
Safety compliance labs.
Specific rules for marijuana businesses:
School buffer: 1,000-foot buffer for all of the business types.
Safety literature inserts describing dangers and recognizing problem use.
Labels would include THC percent, produced-on dates, and a warning about driving and minors’ use of marijuana.
Cannot allow people under 21 to enter (with exceptions, such as for law enforcement personnel).
The comptroller may suspend/void registrations for multiple/serious violations.
Localities could implement time, place, and manner regulations.
Localities would have the opportunity to provide feedback on licensing, which should be given substantial weight.
What is not allowed:
Driving under the influence laws would be unchanged.
Marijuana would not be allowed in prisons and jails.
Landlords would be allowed to prohibit cultivation or smoking of marijuana on their property.
Employers would not have to allow marijuana use at work or allow people to work under the influence of marijuana.
Smoking in public is punishable by a fine of up to $100.
Penalties for minors:
Marijuana use and possession would remain illegal for those under 21.
Courts may order the minor to participate in a drug or alcohol education program, or impose a civil fine of up to $100.
All Maryland agencies with records pertaining to marijuana arrests and convictions must delete such records.
Asset Forfeiture and Arrests are disallowed for adults for purchase, use and possession of the “personal use amount.”
$50/ounce tax at wholesale level, adjusted for inflation/deflation.
The first $5 million in revenue would go to drug and alcohol treatment and education.
Allows the cultivation of industrial hemp
For a more detailed summary of the bill, please review this document produced by our coalition partner, MPP. MDT&RBillSummary 2015
Expanded Marijuana Decriminalization! SB517 removes the 10 gram limit for marijuana decriminalization passed in 2014, making use and possession of any amount of marijuana decriminalized, yet subject to civil fines that increase with subsequent offenses ($100 first/$250 second/$500 for third and subsequent offenses). It adds paraphernalia associated with marijuana to the decriminalization and imposes a strengthened prohibition on the use of marijuana in a vehicle on a road with a $1,000 fine. It also makes it clear that smoking in public and any instance where it would be negligent or would constitute professional malpractice are still a criminal violations. The Libertarian Party of Maryland supports this bill, though we have concerns about the excessively high fine for use within a vehicle, the relaxation of the police search rules with respect to the already decriminalized 10 gram limit, and the ambiguity with respect to defining a default criminal act status via negligence and professional malpractice.
Expungement. The third bill we support is SB168, cross-filed as HB374, which allows expungement of criminal records for those previously convicted of marijuana possession less than 10 grams (the current decriminalized amount).
Other Bills Relating to Marijuana:
Below are brief descriptions of the other significant bills pending on marijuana (many of which will have their hearings on the 24th in the House and March 4th in the Senate):
HB433 Marijuana Disclosure requirements-state outreach campaign on the purported health hazards of marijuana, that a person is still subject to arrest by the federal government (especially on federal property, parks, military bases, etc.) and that it is illegal for banks to do business with marijuana businesses (proceeds of marijuana) and a few other subjects. This bill, filed by Impallaria (R), was filed last year as well, went nowhere in committee, and is expected to meet the same fate this year.
HB105 Is an alternative marijuana paraphernalia decriminalization bill, offered by Delegate Curt Anderson. The bill limits paraphernalia decriminalization to the 10 gram limit. It has 31 other co-sponsors but has not been cross-filed in the Senate.
HB495 tinkers with the 2015 decriminalization provisions regarding convictions and makes possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana a misdemeanor. It is sponsored by Delegate Dumais alone, and is not cross-filed.
HB 601 allows a physician to provide a certification for more than a 30 day supply for medical marijuana and that possession of an amount in excess of a 30 day supply is legal if the person has such a certificate.
HB121 repeals mandatory minimums for specified drug-related offenses and allows review of past mandatory minimum convictions. It does increase the maximum possible penalty for certain offenses from 10 to 20 years, but in those instances it is removing the minimum 10 year sentence. It has 16 co-sponsors but is not cross-filed in the Senate.
HB393 makes marijuana use and possession in a vehicle a crime. It carves out an exception to decriminalization effect. A person must transport marijuana in glove compartment or trunk (or behind seat if no trunk available). It has 6 co-sponsors but has not been cross-filed in the Senate.
HB803 legalizes the growing, harvesting, possession, sale, etc. of industrial hemp. It has 12 co-sponsors but is not cross-filed in the Senate.
Registrations are now open for the 2015 Annual Convention of the Libertarian Party of Maryland. The convention be held Saturday, March 14th, from 1 to 5 p.m., at Squire’s Restaurant (upstairs) in Dundalk.
The keynote speaker will be Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who ran impressive campaigns for Governor of Virginia in 2012 and for Senate in 2014. Come hear how Rob raised over $300,000 for his two statewide campaigns, received press coverage from MSNBC, Fox News, the Washington Post, CNN, Politico, Slate and Reason magazines, received over 200,000 votes in his two races, and obtained the third-best result ever for a Libertarian Party candidate for Governor. In addition, Rob organized two statewide petition drives, submitting over 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
Tickets for the convention are only $35 (includes lunch and access to the entire convention), if received by March 7th. You can register and purchase your tickets in advance HERE or by mailing a check. After March 7th, the tickets are $40 (available at the door as well). We encourage everyone to attend as it is a great way to connect with local libertarians. You do not need to be a member of the party to attend.
The general schedule of events for the convention is:
1:45 – 2:45 Robert Sarvis
2:45 – 3:00 Break
3:00 – 5:00 Central Committee meeting
The Central Committee will take up any proposed amendments to the program recommended by the Program Committee (that meeting is held on March 4th), any proposed amendments to the party constitution and bylaws, and all other business of the party. Membership in the Central Committee (the voting body of the party) is open to all members of the Maryland LP who are registered as libertarians (not registered with another party) and who certify that they agree with our principles set forth in Article II of the party constitution.
Eric Blitz reviews legislation relating to personal liberty introduced (as of 2/13) in Maryland’s 2015 General Assembly session. Any opinions expressed are those of the author and not official positions of the Libertarian Party of Maryland.
Enforcement of Maryland Constitutional Rights
SB319 provides for reasonable attorneys fees and expenses for prevailing plaintiffs claiming violations of Maryland constitutional rights or Maryland Declaration of Rights, against the State and local governments. The statutory cap of $200,000 in damages against governments would not apply, nor would the cap on contingent fees in such cases. This is an important development in holding the state and its political subdivisions accountable to following the Maryland Constitution and Maryland Declaration of Rights. The bill is cross-filed in the House as HB283 and is set for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on 2/18 at 1:00 p.m. and 2/25 at 1:00 p.m. in the Senate’s Judiciary Proceedings Committee.
SB007 has already been passed by the Senate, with amendments. It adds “components” of Electronic cigarettes (and products to refill or re-supply them) to the general prohibition on sales to minors. The bill originally changed the illegal sale offense from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense, decreasing the fines from $1,000 to $300 civil fine on first offense, $500 for subsequent offenses in succeeding 24 months. The amendments retained the misdemeanor criminal status, but also allow the issuance of civil citations by law enforcement, county health officers/designees. The bill also contains the procedural language for civil citations. The bill is cross-filed in the House as HB489 with 20 co-sponsors but the bill (and the Senate amendments) have not yet been considered (it will be heard in both Economic Matters and the Judiciary Committees). Neither House committee has scheduled a hearing as of this date.
HB026 adds electronic cigarettes (vapor included) to the prohibition against indoor smoking that applies to regular cigarettes under the Clean Indoor Air Act. This bill was introduced last year as HB1291, which had 19 co-sponsors and received an unfavorable report from the Economic Matters Committee. It has been assigned to Economic Matters again, which held its hearing on 2/11. To consider vapor in the same category of smoke is ridiculous and if the argument is that the behavior of smoking a vapor electronic in public is demonstrative of smoking regular cigarettes (appearances over substance), then arguably it is a violation of the First Amendment protection of symbolic speech.
HB492 is identical to last year’s HB283 and 2013’s HB1213. It makes a series of medical and scientific statements about the pain response of a fetus (unborn child) as a predicate to mandating the medical determination of the age of the fetus (unborn child) and then outlawing abortion after 20 weeks, except in the case of a medical emergency relating to the health of the pregnant woman, and even then the abortion must be performed in such a manner that gives the fetus (unborn child) the best chance of surviving unless doing so would greater risk of death or substantial injury to the pregnant woman (not including psychological or emotional ‘conditions’). The bill also requires a substantial amount of reporting for all abortions by doctors (with penalties for non-compliance) and provides that the pregnant woman or the father can sue for compensatory and punitive damages for the reckless violation of the 20 week abortion mandate in the law, or an attempt to do so. The law also gives a long list of people (including the pregnant woman’s spouse, siblings and parents) and public officials the right to file for injunctive relief against the doctor to stop such an abortion. In 2013 and 2014, this bill has not made it out of committee (or even received a vote) in either the House or the Senate. This year it is sponsored by 20 Republicans and I would not expect it to get out of committee this year.
SB511 is different from HB492, though it still makes abortions over 20 weeks illegal unless there is a substantial risk to health of the pregnant women. The penalty for doctors violating the act is a felony conviction with a fine of $100,000 and up to 10 years in prison. It allows civil actions by the woman, fathers and grandparents for violations. It will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee (?) but no hearing has been scheduled. The bill has 14 co-sponsors.
Medically Assisted Death with Dignity
SB676 allows medical professionals to provide medicines to terminally ill patients (those with a terminal condition that is likely to result in death within 6 months), after a competency evaluation, so that the individual may end their life (through self-administration). The bill has a very significant set of procedural protections, both for the patient and doctors. It defines a medically assisted death as a death from natural causes and prevents exclusions of coverage under insurance contracts which could define such a death as a suicide (or otherwise non-coverable). If you have concerns about the process or protections, I recommend you review the bill itself HERE. The bill has 8 co-sponsors. A hearing is scheduled for March 10 at 1:00 p.m. in the Judicial Proceedings Committee. The bill has been cross-filed in the House as HB1021, where it has 38 co-sponsors.
Religions Exemption to Vaccination Mandate
HB687 removes the religions exemption from the vaccination mandates of the state. Note that the current exemption is already limited when there is an epidemic or emergency. The bill has 5 co-sponsors and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
Draft Registration through MVA
SB72 changes the conditions of driver’s license pass-through registration for the Military Draft (Selective Service). It amends the law make it no longer applicable only to males and most importantly, it removes the right of applicants for a driver’s license to opt-out Currently there is a fundamental protection under current law that if you refused to consent to your information being shared, it could not be used as a reason to deny a driver’s license. Under this bill, it can be. A hearing was already held in the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee but no vote has been taken. The bill is cross-filed as HB196 in the House and is scheduled for a hearing before the Environmental & Transportation Committee on 2/19 at 1:00 p.m. The bill has 13 co-sponsors in the House.
Private Sales of Dogs and Cats
HB403 requires a certificate of health be issued by a veterinarian to sell a dog or cat. The health certificate requirement only applies to private sales, not to non-profits, shelters or pet stores. It has 12 co-sponsors in the House. No hearing before the Economic Matters Committee is scheduled for 2/24 at 1:00 p.m.
SB213 lowers the drinking age to 18, but only for active military. A hearing is scheduled in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on 2/27 at 1:00 p.m. The bill has 5 co-sponsors and has not been cross-filed in the House.
Motor Vehicle Checkpoints-Motorcycles
SB716 prohibits police officers from targeting only motorcycles at motor vehicle checkpoints. Sponsored by Senator Raskin (with 10 other co-sponsors), the bill was previously introduced in 2014 as SB640, which didn’t get a vote in Judicial Proceedings Committee. This year’s bill is assigned to the Rules Committee but no hearing is yet scheduled. The bill is cross-filed as HB917 in the House. Hearings have yet to be scheduled.
The first in a series, Eric Blitz reviews legislation relating to criminal justice reform, introduced (as of 2/10) in Maryland’s 2015 General Assembly session. Any opinions expressed are those of the author and not official positions of the Libertarian Party of Maryland.
Leading off the hit parade is a bill that puts constraints on the deployment of SWAT teams in Maryland. SB173 limits the deployment of a SWAT team to instances where there is a significant imminent threat to human life, welfare, and safety and the use of regular patrol officers is insufficient to meet that threat. It requires a supervisor to create a written report supporting the determination that these factors exist (and whether pregnant women, children or the elderly are suspected of being present) before deploying a SWAT team, except when doing so would substantially endanger the lives of civilians or police personnel. The bill also imposes substantial reporting requirements on police forces that use a SWAT team, which should help with the transparency problems associated with such deployments. There is a hearing scheduled in Senate Finance Committee on 2/12 at 1:00 p.m. The bill is cross-filed in the House as HB338.
Police Body Cameras
HB308 provides authorization for the use of body cameras for police officers while on duty (except detectives). It requires the storage of data from the body cameras for 30 days. The bill also provides that the body camera’s interception of oral communications is not a violation of the Maryland law which prohibits the interception of oral communications. It is this last provision which presents some concern, as it may be over broad. Exceptions to the general prohibition against intercepting oral communications already exist to protect law enforcement officers, under the Maryland wiretapping and electronic surveillance provisions of §10-402 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article. Those exceptions are sufficient. The blanket exception in this bill would seem to expand lawful interception of oral communications beyond the recognized exceptions. One wonders if officers can be used as mobile Trojan horse, to expand (beyond the warrant requirement) interception of communications captured by their body camera that do not involve communications with the officer (especially if their presence is hidden from view or the officer is not otherwise identified). On the other hand, video tapes by law enforcement officers are already included in the 10-402 exceptions and body cameras could be viewed as a very similar technology (though mobile). While I generally support body cameras on police officers as a means of ensuring transparency in the use of force and general official conduct, I have some concerns that over time they may lead to the erosion in the legitimate expectation of privacy in all instances in which police officers are present and on duty. HB308 has 8 co-sponsors in the House but is not yet cross-filed in the Senate. A hearing in the House Judiciary Committee has not yet been scheduled.
The next three bills I really like, which no doubt dooms them to never get out of committee. The first two are sponsored by Delegate Curt Anderson and the third is sponsored by Delegate Conaway (and Senator Muse in the Senate).
HB363 provides that the commission of a misdemeanor or felony (that have an incarceration penalty of a year or more) by law enforcement officers while in the course of their duties constitutes misconduct in office. That misconduct in office is a separate offense that can lead to up to a 10 year sentence, to be served consecutively and not concurrent to the underlying offense. There are 4 co-sponsors. No hearing is yet scheduled.
HB365 shifts all felony prosecutions of police officers (both state and federal) for violations during the course of their duties from the local office of the States Attorney to the office of the Attorney General. There are 7 co-sponsors. No hearing is yet scheduled. My one concern with this bill is that the investigatory phase is still conducted by the State’s Attorney’s office, as the referral to the Attorney General’s office only occurs after a statement of charges or criminal information has been filed. It would be preferable if the Attorney General’s office handled the pre-charging investigation of all allegations of felony police misconduct. However, in cases that involve the death of an individual by an action or omission of a police officer, that investigation loophole is solved by the next bill.
HB 112 provides that the State Prosecutor may investigate the death of an individual who dies as a result of an action or omission of a police officer (while on duty or for off-duty, if the activities are within the scope of the officers duties) if the State’s Attorney for the jurisdiction in which the death occurred does not file an information or seek a grand jury indictment in the case. This provides an important secondary review in these cases and my only suggestion is that it may need a time requirement to know when a State’s Attorney’s predicate actions (or lack thereof) trigger the State Prosecutor’s authority to investigate. This bill is cross-filed in the Senate as SB653. No hearing is yet scheduled.
Note that Delegate Rosenberg has introduced a similar bill, which would apply to any use of force by a police officer, which is HB438. That bill grants the State Prosecutor the authority to investigate immediately, which would seem to be a concurrent authority with State’s Attorneys. That bill has no other co-sponsors and no hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Restoration of Voting Rights after Felony Disqualification
SB340 removes parole and/or probation from the period of disqualification so that citizens are only disqualified from registering to vote because of a felony conviction only during their period of incarceration. The bill also requires notice to prisoners of their right to vote and opportunity to register as they are discharged from incarceration. This bill is similar to the kind of reforms that Rand Paul has been promoting in Congress. Only Senator Conaway is a sponsor so far and it is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate’s Education, Health and Welfare Committee on 2/26 at 1:00 p.m.
HB360 is a bill reforming asset forfeiture laws relating to controlled dangerous substances (CDS) offenses. The party program calls for ending pre-conviction asset forfeitures. Considering its sponsors, this bill has a reasonable chance of passage. It does not end abusive asset forfeiture, but nonetheless provides some good (if minor) reforms. The bill provides:
- Currently the owner of property bears the burden of proving that they had no knowledge of the CDS violation in certain CDS asset forfeitures. The bill shifts that burden back to the State with respect to “innocent owner” claims involving CDS violations when the assets involve vehicles, real property and assets used in the purchase of CDS (or traceable to the exchange).
- Places a minimum of $300 on many CDS asset forfeitures, removing some of the small money claims.
- Removes a provision that allowed forfeitures when assets are in close proximity to CDS, paraphernalia, and a few other items, which should require prosecutors to prove asset forfeiture authority under other more relevant indicia of a relationship to a CDS offense.
- Property must be immediately returned to the owner if the owner is not charged with a CDS violation in connection with the property within 90 days of the seizure.
- Seized property cannot be transferred to federal law enforcement unless the case is prosecuted in federal court.
- Changes the burden of proof by removing a rebuttable presumption that the property can be forfeited, if the state meets a burden of establishing, by clear and convincing evidence, certain CDS offenses.
- Establishes a reporting scheme to track asset forfeiture in the state.
A hearing is scheduled in House Judiciary on 2/17 at 1 p.m. The bill is sponsored by Delegate Vallario (and 19 others) in the House. The companion bill in the Senate is SB 528, with 10 co-sponsors.
HB301 requires state correctional facilities to file detailed annual reports on segregated confinement in excess of 22 hours per day. It builds transparency with respect to the use of segregated confinement. The bill has 12 co-sponsors in the House. The bill is cross-filed in the Senate as SB414 (8 co-sponsors). A hearing is scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee on 2/17 at 1:00 p.m.
Race-based Traffic Stops
HB339 requires police departments to report information for traffic stops that track race and requires the development of a model policy against race-based traffic stops. It is cross-filed in the Senate as SB413. A hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee is scheduled for 2/19 at 1:00 p.m.
The 2015 annual convention of the Libertarian Party of Maryland will be held on Saturday, March 14th, from 1 to 5 p.m., at Squire’s Restaurant (upstairs) in Dundalk. The keynote speaker will be Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who ran an impressive campaign for Virginia Governor in 2012 and ran for Senate in 2014. The cost for this years convention is only $35. You can purchase your tickets in advance HERE.
The general schedule of events for the convention is:
1:45 – 2:45 Robert Sarvis
2:45 – 3:00 Break
3:00 – 5:00 Central Committee meeting
The Central Committee will take up any proposed amendments to the program recommended by the Program Committee (that meeting is held on March 4th), any proposed amendments to the party constitution and bylaws, and all other business of the party.
While consistent with the national trend of rising libertarian registrations, the rate of growth in Maryland is nothing less than astounding. Over the past two years, the Libertarian Party of Maryland is the only party that showed a net increase in their registrations. Our registrations grew by 29.95%, whereas all the other party registrations decreased! As of the end of 2014, we reached 15,169 registered libertarians, a historic high for the party here in Maryland.
Here are the Maryland party comparisons, over the last two years (December 2012 to December 2014):
Libertarians: +29.95% (11,673 to 15,169)
Unaffiliated: +6.29% (629,740 to 669,344)
Democrats: -2.61% (2,096,976 to 2,042,232)
Republicans: -1.39% (971,588 to 958,111)
Greens: -2.18% (8,806 to 8,614)
Total Registered Voters: 3,759,742 to 3,727,601, a decrease of 32,141 or -0.09%
Our growth rate in registrations eclipsed even the movement of voters to unaffiliated status, which is important considering the widely-reported disenchantment with political parties over recent years.
While I normally measure registration statistics over two-year increments to average out short-term variation and make them comparable with statewide electoral results, the charts below show that our growth has been consistent over ten year period, averaging 19.4% a year.
Compare our trending annual growth over a ten year period with those of the other parties:
According to the latest issue of LP News, national LP registrations are up 8.3% over the past seven months. According to ballot access expert Richard Winger, the national data show there were 368,561 registered Libertarians in March 2014, compared to 330,811 in November 2012, a national growth rate of 11.4%. We are nearly tripling the national average in Maryland!
While our growth is impressive, we must remember just how far behind the main parties we are in total registrations. Notwithstanding our growth rates, our 15,169 registrants is only 0.41% of the total registered voters in the state. The Democratic dominance in Maryland remains staggering in comparison and while Republicans have made modest gains, even their numbers dwarf our 15,169. Recognizing this disparity should not discourage us, but instead provide motivation for expanding our efforts to provide an alternative voice in support of liberty.
Today, Maryland’s legislature reconvenes for its 2015 session. The Libertarian Party of Maryland will closely watch all the proposed legislation and we are participating in the advocacy for marijuana legalization (and fixes to the 2014 decriminalization bill). Let’s hope that with a new Governor and a large freshman class of legislators, Maryland can move towards less taxation, less spending, less cronyism, and greater economic and social liberty.
The Libertarian Party of Maryland will hold its annual convention on March 14, 2015, from 1 to 5 p.m., on the second floor of Squire’s Restaurant. The speakers at this year’s convention will be announced soon. During each annual convention, the Central Committee of the party is tasked with considering nominations and voting for the Executive Board, voting on any changes to the party’s program recommended by the Program Committee, receiving reports and conducting all other business authorized by the party Constitution and Bylaws. The annual convention is a great opportunity to meet other libertarians in Maryland and discuss the activities and future of the party. Please save the date and plan to attend. The event calendar will be updated when the program is finalized and a subsequent announcement will also be made on the website, Facebook and in the newsletter.
Ben Swann gave an upbeat commentary about Libertarians, independents and other third party candidates on election night. According to Ben, there is good news. Libertarians are “trending” in the right direction as people are giving up on the ‘fake, two party system’ and are achieving some of the highest polling numbers in modern history.
UPDATED Official Election Results:
Shawn Quinn, Governor: 25,382 1.5%
Leo W. Dymowski, Attorney General: 57,069 3.4%
Scott Soffen, Congressional District 7: 6,103 3.0%
Arvin Vohra, Congressional District 4: 2,795 1.5%
Ronald M. Owens-Bey, Maryland House of Delegates District 45: 2,734 4.4%
Leo M. Martin, Garrett County Commissioner (District 1): 2,505 28.6%
Bill Welch, Garrett County Commissioner (District 3): 920 10.1%
David Sgambellone, Anne Arundel County Commissioner (District 2): 900 4.4%
Peggy J. O’Donnell, Calvert County Commissioner (District 2): 2,156 6.7%
Though the results remain unofficial, most importantly because they don’t include the 40,937 absentee and provisional ballots the State Board of Elections won’t finish counting until November 12th, the top story for libertarians in this year’s election will remain unchanged. Shawn Quinn and Lorenzo Gaztanaga broke the 1% barrier and the party therefore qualifies for continued ballot access! Shawn Quinn received 1.45% of the vote for Governor, which the best in the history of the Libertarian Party of Maryland and the first time any third party candidate was able to break the 1% threshold in 44 years. Team Quinn’s 2014 showing was especially impressive given that the race between the Republicans and Democrats was so competitive, which likely drained votes from their total due to ‘lesser of two evils’ arguments and partisan value indexing being more important in such a high profile, turnout advocacy race.
The other statewide race, Leo Dymowski’s run for Attorney General, also set a high-water mark for the party. Even before the absentee and provision ballots are counted, Leo received 53,891 for 3.38% of the vote. That is the highest vote total for a third party candidate in Maryland since 1968.
The award for the highest percentage for a Libertarian in 2014 goes to Mayor Leo Martin, who received 28.4% of the vote in his run for Garrett County Commissioner in District 1, a two person race. The runner up for highest percentage was Bill Welch, who ran for Garrett County Commissioner in District 3. Despite being in a tight five person race (Bill, a Republican, a three-term councilperson of Oakland running as an unaffiliated, a write in who was the incumbent, and a Democrat), Bill received 9.95% of the vote, beating out the Democrat.
Our two congressional candidates were Scott Soffen in the 7th District, who received 2.94% of the vote against long-time incumbent Elijah Cummings and Arvin Vohra in the always tough 4th District, who received 1.45%.
The only Libertarian running for the House of Delegates (District 45) was Ronald Owens-Bey, who received 4.4% of the vote.
In the other local races, Peggy O’Donnell received 6.69% in her race for the Board of Calvert County Commissioners and Dave Sgambellone received 4.4% in his race for Anne Arundel County Council.
Congratulations to all the Libertarian Party candidates and thank you for your hard work.
This is from today’s (November 5, 2014) press release by Bob Johnston, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland:
Maryland LP first minor party in the state in 44 years to retain ballot access.
The Maryland Libertarian Party became the first non-establishment party in the state since 1970 to retain ballot access, as their gubernatorial candidate, Shawn Quinn, received over 1% of the vote in yesterday’s election.
If a political party in Maryland does not have at least 1% of the registered voters at the end of the year, it’s top-of-the-ticket statewide candidate must receive at least 1%.
The last time a non-establishment gubernatorial candidate received 1% was in 1970, when American Party candidate Robert Merkle Woods, Sr. got 1.97% of the vote.
Due to stringent ballot access laws, no minor party had a candidate on the ballot for Governor between 1970 and 2002, when Libertarian Spear Lancaster got on the ballot.
In addition, Maryland LP candidate for Attorney General Leo Dymowski received the most votes for a statewide minor party candidate since 1968, surpassing Ralph Nader’s vote totals in the 2000 Presidential election, even before the absentee ballots have been counted.
If a political party in the state does not have at least 1% of the registered voters, it must collect 10,000 signatures from registered Maryland voters to become a recognized party again, and will remain on the ballot for two general election cycles.
To retain its ballot access, the Libertarian Party’s 2016 Presidential candidate must receive 1%, or the party (edited: must have 1% of the registered voters) by the end of 2016.
With the vote we are given the opportunity to let our political values be known. By joining with others in support of candidates who best represent our political ideals and values, we help build consensus for those ideas and values. Libertarians and everyone else are given the opportunity to vote for candidates who best support the expansion and protection of liberty. Voting Libertarian sends an unambiguous message. Voting for more of the same will get you (and everyone else) what we’ve come to expect from politicians and the main parties: more of the same. Please stand up and be counted. The media, the political class, and the general public will notice. The Libertarian Party of Maryland nominated candidates who can deliver significant and positive change for Maryland and we are proud of the dedication and energy they’ve brought to their campaigns. You can see a full list of our candidates here. Today, we vote!
Shawn Quinn, the Libertarian candidate for Governor, will host an election night party (Tuesday, November 4th) at the Hilton Garden Inn at BWI. The party will start at 8 p.m. (when the polls close) and is open to the public. There will be live music, a cash bar, and finger food until 11 p.m. and we can all watch the election results together, swap campaign stories, and enjoy each others company. A $5 voluntary donation is being requested to help defray the costs, but don’t let that stop you from coming.
The address for the Hilton Garden Inn is 1516 Aero Drive, Linthicum, Maryland 21090. Here is a link to the Facebook event created by Shawn to stay up to date on any event planning. We hope to see you there!
Arvin Vohra, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 4th District was interviewed by ReasonTV about the influence of Libertarians on the midterm elections. “When you give [Democrats and Republicans] your vote, you’re telling them ‘Go ahead, keep on doing what you’re doing,'” explains Libertarian National Committee Vice Chair Arvin Vohra. “And when you vote for the Libertarian candidate you are telling them, in no uncertain terms, ‘You do not have either my approval or my permission to grow or sustain big government: shrink it now.’
Lorenzo Gaztanaga, the Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor, was interviewed for a story appearing in the WashCo Chronicle. Lorenzo discussed several issues raised in the campaign, such as establishing term limits, reducing the sales tax, overhauling the tax system, marijuana policy and the potential use of pardons for those convicted of drug offenses. You can read the full interview HERE.
Lorenzo is pictured on the right, sitting with his running mate and candidate for Governor, Shawn Quinn.
Leo Dymowski, the Libertarian candidate for Attorney General, was interviewed by Maryland Reporter.com, with a focus on his advocacy for the end of the drug war, including the legalization of Marijuana in Maryland. During the interview, Leo is quoted as saying:
You can read the full interview HERE.
Shawn Quinn, the Libertarian candidate for Governor in Maryland, was interviewed by Jonathan Pitts of the Baltimore Sun recently. You can view the article here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-shawn-quinn-20141024-story.html
Leo Dymowski, Libertarian candidate for Attorney General, will appear on Richard Sher’s Square Off this Sunday at 11 a.m. on WMAR ABC2. UPDATE: Here is the link to Leo’s appearance: http://vimeo.com/109955179
Leo is also featured in an article in the Daily Record (though you need to be a subscriber for full access), wherein he says about the drug war “The system now just doesn’t work. We can’t jail ourselves out of the problem.’ http://thedailyrecord.com/2014/10/22/longshot-candidate-at-liberty-to-speak-freely
Early voting starts today and libertarians should get out and vote Libertarian! (See our list of candidates). To see the location of an early voting center in your County, visit the State Election Board website. If you are reading this, you are likely a committed Libertarian voter, so this message may be preaching to the choir. But consider these points:
- Those who are registered Libertarian in Maryland vote at a lower rate than Republicans and Democrats, and in non-presidential elections, we vote at a rather abysmal 45% (42% in 2010, 47% in 2008). Given our commitment, we should be outperforming our opposition, but sadly, too many are swayed by the overwhelming odds or have simply given up. Let’s change these numbers in 2014 and make sure that we get the Libertarian base to vote.
- People who plan ahead where and when they will vote are more likely to actually vote.
- 10% of the people who tell pollsters they voted actually didn’t vote.
- If people are told that someone plans on distributing the list of people’s names who voted (or didn’t vote) to their neighbors after the election, people are more likely to vote. FACTOID ALERT: We at the Libertarian Party of Maryland would never do this, for obvious reasons.
- The decision not to vote is usually made on election day, not in advance, using an excuse (the weather, “too busy”, “not worth it”, the kids,etc.).
- People who know that their friends voted for a candidate are more likely to vote for that candidate.
What do these facts mean? That people have an ambivalent attitude towards voting and libertarians more than most? Perhaps, but given that we keep getting the same results with Republicans and Democrats regardless of who wins, is it any wonder this is a consequence (though the more pernicious consequence is in the disastrous policies they enact). Yet for libertarians and those who prefer libertarian solutions (even if you like some, not all), the importance of voting is not yet who will win, but to send a clear and unambiguous message to the political establishment and media about your preferred policy choices. You won’t get that clear statement by voting for Republicans or Democrats. In addition, by voting Libertarian you support future efforts of the party here in Maryland, as it is critical that we reach at least 1% of the vote in the race for Governor, so that we retain ballot access for two more years. See this link for more details on the importance of the 2014 vote.
As I noted in the beginning, if you are reading this, you are likely one of the committed, so what can you do? Reach out to your liberty loving friends from now until election day and make sure they are voting their preferences for liberty. If you know of anyone who might need a ride or other help getting to the polls, help them (or let us know and someone else can help). Post on social media that you have voted Libertarian. We have great candidates this year. Let’s support them and in the process, support our own political values.
Leo Dymowski, Libertarian candidate for Attorney General, was interviewed by the Dundalk Eagle for a story last Wednesday. Mr. Dymowski discussed the Libertarian Party and one of his main issues, ending the drug war. You can read the story at:
David Sgambellone, the Libertarian candidate for the Anne Arundel County Council in the 2nd District, will participate in a candidates’ debate to be held at the Pascal Center for the Performing Arts at the Arnold campus of Anne Arundel Community College this coming Tuesday, October 21st, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be 3 one-hour segments to cover each of seven council districts as well as the county executive’s race. Mr. Sgambellone will be in the first segment, starting at 6:00.
It would be great if we could have some libertarians present to support David. You can see where the Pascal Center and parking is on this map (PCPA is near Lot A and E). The event will also air live on WNAV-AM radio and be broadcast on AACC TV on cable channels.
David currently serves as the Director of the Young Libertarians of Maryland.
This Sunday’s forum, which would have included Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor, Lorenzo Gaztanaga, and Ken Ulman (D) and Boyd Rutherford (R), has been cancelled. According to the spokesperson for the event sponsors (Montgomery Community Television and the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County):
“Due to restrictions imposed by the Secret Service for President Obama’s scheduled visit with candidates Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and County Executive Ken Ulman, the Lieutenant Governor Town Hall Forum scheduled for Sunday, October 19th is cancelled.”
Too bad, Lorenzo would have done a great job.
Leo Dymowski, the Libertarian candidate for Attorney General, today received the endorsement of the Quinton Political Report (Jeff Quinton), a popular blogger on political issues in Maryland. Congratulations to Leo, who the recent Washington Post/University of Maryland poll had at a competitive 16% of independent voters. You can also expect to begin hearing radio advertisements for Leo on WBAL, beginning today.
You can read Mr. Quinton’s endorsement at: http://www.quintonreport.com/2014/10/15/endorsing-a-candidate-for-marylands-attorney-general.
Scott Soffen, Libertarian candidate for Congress in the 7th District, was interviewed by Kelly Swoope of ABC2 News. Watch Scott discuss why he’s running as a libertarian and answer questions on immigration, unemployment, and how he’d work to bring results in a divided and unpopular Congress. Way to go Scott!
Leo Dymowski, Libertarian candidate for Attorney General, was interviewed by WMDT, a Delmarva affiliate of ABC. His focus on ending the failed drug war and protecting 2nd Amendment rights are at the heart of his campaign. You can see the brief article that accompanied the coverage on WMDT’s website HERE.
According to a new Washington Post/University of Maryland poll (October 5th), Libertarian Shawn Quinn is at 4% of likely voters (6% of registered voters) in the race for Governor, and Libertarian Leo Dymowski is at 5% in the race for Attorney General. In a pleasant surprise, Leo Dymowski is at 16% among independents/others who say they are likely to vote. According to the poll, that race also has a very substantial number of people who are undecided, so Leo’s potential for growth (especially among independents) is high. Considering that Shawn and Leo get a tiny fraction of the fundraising and media that the other candidates receive, their numbers are very respectable. It is also nice to see that they are being regularly included in such polls, which has not always been the case in the past. You can read the Washington Post’s story on the poll HERE.
Now for a bit more editorializing (by Eric Blitz):
If you look at the details of the poll, you can observe that Independents and Others (which would include Libertarian registered voters) report that 48% are absolutely certain to vote and 18% will probably vote for Governor. Compare this to the overall samples results of 60% absolutely certain and 18% probably (62%/11% for Democrats and 65%/18% for Republicans). This is consistent with the results of other non-Presidential year statewide election results in Maryland, in which our Libertarian registered voters only vote at a rate of 44% (42.1% in 2010 and 46.7% in 2006). It also largely explains why Shawn is at 6% of registered voters and 4% of likely voters. We need to get out and vote at a much higher rate than this! If Republicans and Democrats, with their boring and quite predictable candidacies can turnout at 60%, so can we. We should be outperforming the major parties in this regard! Please Libertarians, make sure you plan ahead when and where you will vote (statistics show a marked increase in actual voting percentages when people have made that plan) AND actually go out and vote Libertarian! It is so important to maintain our ballot access (we need to reach 1% in the Governors race in 2014) as a party. The last time the party spent approximately $33,000 to regain ballot access. For a small (but growing!) party with a small donor base, that is a huge burden. Wouldn’t you rather that money be spent supporting libertarian ideas through outreach and messaging, or candidate support? Please remember to vote and vote for all our great Libertarian candidates.
Scott Soffen, the Libertarian Party candidate for Congress in the 7th District, was interviewed by the League of Women Voters of Howard County about his campaign. You can watch three videos wherein Scott answers why he is running, explains his views on the most important issues, and describes the relationship of partisanship and career politicians to the office of US House Representative.
You can learn more about Scott and his campaign at http://www.whyvotelibertarian.com
The National Chair of the Libertarian Party, Nick Sarwark, delivered a short speech at the grand opening of the party’s new headquarters on September 20th, 2014.
Afterwards, LNC member Bill Redpath spoke, including a brief introduction and comments by Elizabeth Nolan, the wife of David Nolan, which are including in a different video at this link: Speeches at Grand Opening .
Two different friends in two different contexts recently asked me about Libertarian approaches to helping the poor. Here’s what I had to say on that question in my 2012 collection of campaign essays, “Less We Can.”
Libertarianism and the Poor
We know free markets produce more prosperity, and we know government spending is often ineffective or worse. But many are nonetheless reluctant to embrace libertarian ideas because of their commitment to social justice. Without the welfare state, how would Libertarians take care of the poor? Read the rest of this entry »
In an interview published by the Gazette.Net, libertarian candidate for Maryland Attorney General, Leo Dymowski, argued for ending the failed war on drugs. Dymowski was quoted as saying, “I’ve always thought that in a free society the government shouldn’t be able to tell you what you can and cannot do as long as you don’t hurt anybody else,” he said. “To see people separated from society when their only crime is to use a substance that the government doesn’t like, it’s just absurd.”
You can read the full article here: Gazzett.Net.
According to a poll commissioned by the Republican Party, Libertarian Shawn Quinn is at 4%, with Brown at 45% and Hogan at 42% (the margin of error is at 4.3).
The Republicans will soon be courting the libertarian vote, as they often do when the race gets close. Don’t give it to them. Voting your conscience and values is the only way to make your vote matter. For the political class and media to take libertarians into account, libertarian votes must be counted, not subsumed into crossover numbers of R’s or D’s. Do you think Hogan or Brown represent your values? Vote for Shawn Quinn this November. Vote for our other great candidates throughout the state. Vote Libertarian and be counted as a libertarian!
On Saturday, August 16th, libertarians plan on protesting the exclusion of Shawn Quinn, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for Governor, from the Governor’s forum (a debate). Only the Democratic and Republican candidates will be allowed to participate in Saturday’s forum, notwithstanding that voters have another alternative on the ballot in Mr. Quinn. The protest will be held at 4001 Coastal Highway Ocean City, Maryland 21842 and is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m., hours before the 11:15 a.m. commencement of the forum.
It is typical for Republican and Democratic campaigns to collude to exclude third parties from debates, but that is no excuse for the debate sponsors (in this case the Maryland Association of Counties-the lobbying arm for County governments), Maryland Public Television (who will broadcast the debate) and the media to join in that collusion and allow it to occur so regularly.
Did you know that you can order Libertarian Party license plates for your car in Maryland? We are one of the few state affiliates able to offer such uber coolness for your ride. They are technically vanity plates, so you pay the extra vanity fee every two years (currently an extra $25), but they are a great way to advertise the party as many people notice the unique plate. If you’d like to order such plates for your car, please contact our Secretary, Robert Glaser, through our Drive Liberty Home page. He will send you the necessary form. The party does not charge any extra fee for these plates.
By Eric J. Blitz, Director of Legislative Affairs, Libertarian Party of Maryland.
It is sad, even perplexing, that it takes a series of well-publicized abuses by law enforcement personnel to bring about greater transparency, reasonable limitations on the use of force by police, limitations on dangerous procedures such as no-knock search warrant raids, civilian review of police use of force cases, and better statutory guidance on police department training, supervision and management. Notwithstanding our frustration that it has taken this long, the Libertarian Party of Maryland applauds the Maryland General Assembly for a series of important policing reforms enacted this session. These are important first steps towards reorienting the culture of policing in Maryland and could serve as a model for other states that want their policing to protect and serve everyone. Some elements of the police reform bills that I will review should especially please Libertarians, as they have long been at the forefront in advocating for such changes.
Perhaps the most important reform is the statutory codification of a state-wide use of force policy. That policy establishes what most citizens should reasonably expect from their police. The Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 (SB 71) establishes a use of force statute which provides that:
- A police officer may not use force against a person unless, under the totality of circumstances, that force is necessary and proportionate to prevent an imminent threat of physical injury to a person or to affect a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
- The use of force by a police officer must cease as soon as the person to which the force is applied is under the control of the police officer, when that person no longer poses an imminent threat (to the police officer or others), or the police officer determines that force will no longer accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
- Requires de-escalation of conflict when time, circumstances and safety permit.
- Requires police officers to intervene to prevent or terminate an unauthorized use of force under the use of force statute.
- Requires officers to provide basic first aid to a person injured by the use of force by police.
- Fully documents and makes transparent all significant use of force incidents.
It could be that a more objective standard is needed for the last clause in 2 above (police officer determination of the cessation of a legitimate law enforcement purpose) rather than a subjective standard. Time will tell. The obligation of intervention in 4 above will assist in developing a better policing culture, as simply deferring to another police officer when there is a clear violation will no longer be tolerated. There are also important provisions for training and supervision with respect to these use of force standards.
The Maryland Police Accountability Act also provides for an expansion of body-camera mandates. A task force is established to study the viability of expanding that to the rest of the state and this is an understandably complex and difficult rollout. By 2025 the mandate will be statewide for the county police forces, but one can expect tinkering with this idea over the next few years. Long-term rollouts of reform mandates have a way of being eroded, so this is an area where we’ll just have to watch and hold our elected officials accountable.
A less glamorous but equally important element of the legislation is that the use of force statute is integrated with training, counseling, and departmental policies which will hopefully make the weight of these changes fall equally on the police departments responsible for the supervision and management of individual officers, rather than just on individual police officers. Individual problems in policing can become systemic problems in criminal justice when there is a lack of public accountability. Public transparency is necessary for public accountability and ensures that institutions are held equally accountable for just outcomes.
The second important bill (SB178) passed this session was Anton’s law, a bill which the Libertarian Party of Maryland had worked on for years and which increases transparency when misconduct complaints are made against police officers. Due to an unfortunate ruling of Maryland’s highest court, the disposition of misconduct complaints made against police officers were being treated as personnel records rather than as investigatory records. Under the Maryland Public Information Act, personnel records fall within a mandatory exclusion from the documents that can be made public by the police department’s custodian of records, whereas the investigatory records exception limits disclosure according to a balancing test with a set of enumerated factors that only prevents the disclosure when it will harm an investigation or sources. This bill restores the proper balancing of interests and stops the wholesale sweeping of misconduct claims and their disposition behind a veil of secrecy (though the opponents did get an exception added to exclude “technical violations of rules”).
SB178 also provides some protections against no-knock search warrants, a topic which Libertarians have been interested in due to the death of Duncan Lemp (and others before him). A no-knock search warrant allows police to enter the premises or place to be searched without giving notice of the police officer’s authority or purpose. The bill amends the process for requesting and obtaining no-knock search warrants. While it contains some limitations on the grounds for justifying a no-knock search warrant (such as information that shows that property or evidence would be destroyed or that there is information showing that the life or safety of the executing officer or another person may be endangered), the limitations do not go far enough. There are advantages to the bill’s provisions, especially with respect to the information and review by the judge executing the warrant, but more work in this area is probably going to be needed. One good aspect of the bill is a set of provisions to require record keeping and transparency with respect to police departments’ use of no-knock search warrants.
Another bill passed this session was HB670, which repealed and replaced the LEOBR (Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights). LEOBR had provided a very one-sided protection of police officers and has been cited as a significant barrier to the accountability for police misconduct. The bill requires each County to establish a civilian Police Accountability Board to receive complaints of police misconduct (such complaints can also be filed with the police agency itself) with an administrative charging committee element that sets forth an orderly and fair process for addressing police misconduct claims. It requires written findings and opinions in the administrative disposition, requires findings if there are any failures of supervision that contributed to the police misconduct, and develops and deploys a statewide disciplinary matrix, which has the virtue of creating uniform statewide standards for misconduct cases. The process maintains important due process protections for the police officer(s) accused of misconduct, while eliminating the provisions that made it so one-sided on behalf of the police. There will still be disciplinary trial boards (open to the public), but they will operate within the new system. Police officers may be required to submit to a battery of drug/alcohol tests. The bill also allows the appointment of a victim advocate to represent the victim in the context of the disciplinary complaint resolution, which is mostly to guaranty transparency but also prevents conflicting evidence from being easily ignored. One of the early concerns about removing the LEOBR system was that police unions would be able to enact the same one-sided protections through collective bargaining agreements, but this law prevents that from occurring.
Notably there is a good whistle-blower protection provision to facilitate good cops disclosing violations of policy, mismanagement, waste of government resources, etc. by police departments. The bill also preserves the right of police officers to participate in political activities that was in the original LEOBR, which is laudable as police officers should not lose their rights to free expression and association.
Another strong element of the bill not discussed much in the press is that it requires the existing Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to hold local police departments accountable for violations of the use of force standards enacted in the previously described bill. This will be an important institutional check and facilitate the equal treatment of citizens through the equal enforcement and interpretation (including rulemaking) of police officers, supervisors, management, and the agencies themselves. The Commission can also enforce their rules through the police certification process. If the Commission does its job, this could bring the statutory requirements to reality with an efficacy often lost in other police reform efforts.
Another provision that Libertarians will applaud is that prior cannabis use is not a disqualification for certification as a police officer. Another element is something the Libertarian Party of Maryland also worked on for a number of years, which was re-establishing the SWAT team reporting requirements which had lapsed due to a legislative sunset provision. In the past the police unions had argued that this reporting transparency should not be re-established because, according to them, nobody was interested or used that information. While the Libertarian Party would prefer strict statutory standards for the deployment of SWAT teams including strong limits on their use for exercising general warrants (absent clear evidence of dangerous conditions), re-establishing transparency as to the use of SWAT teams in Maryland will facilitate future legislative efforts.
Finally, of note is SB599, which would have prevented the purchase of some specified surplus military equipment by police departments, passed the Senate but was not taken up on the floor of the House. Therefore, we’ll have to return next year to advocate for this bill as it is an issue important to Libertarians. The bill would have prevented the purchase of weaponized aircraft, vehicles and drones, destructive devices, firearm silencers and grenade launchers by Maryland police departments. That is a start, but the use of military-grade equipment to suppress and deter protests will remain a concern and the purchase and use of such military surplus equipment should also be limited by the General Assembly.