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On March 29, 2014 the program committee met to propose, discuss, and recommend changes to the Libertarian Party of Maryland’s program. I chaired the meeting and Stuart Simms acted as the Secretary. Ten members of the central committee participated, with six making it through to the end of the three hour meeting. The final vote was 5 to 1 in favor of the recommendations. The central committee will vote on 13 separate proposals this Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the annual convention.

Many of the proposed amendments were made for the purpose of simplification, clarification or a better exposition of the ideas. However, there are 6 substantive changes which I’ll briefly describe and explain. Note that the explanations I provide here are not official explanations of the program committee, but my personal take on the rationales expressed by the participants.

Conspicuously absent from the existing program was a statement on health care. Considering the importance of the health care debates, the committee felt it was necessary to recommend an entirely new section, which is proposed to read:

“Health Care.

Promote a free market system that respects the freedom of individuals to control their own health care, health insurance, medications, and treatments. End government mandates and interference.”

The second recommendation is a proposal to simplify the statement on asset forfeiture, making the bullet point less argumentative. The markup of the language is:

End the [PRE-CONVICTION] use of asset forfeiture.”until the property owner has been properly convicted of a crime in the judicial system. Seizure of property before a conviction is an un-American policy of “guilty until proven innocent.”

The third recommendation is to add a new bullet point to the Jobs and Wealth Creation section, focusing on entrepreneurs and small business start-ups. There is a need for greater outreach by the party towards small businesses in Maryland and the program should reflect a free-market approach.  The proposed language is:

 “Encourage entrepreneurs and small business start-ups by eliminating barriers to economic opportunity.”

Another topic which our program does not address, but is prominent in the current public policy debates, is domestic spying and bulk data collection by the federal government. While not a formal endorsement of nullification bills, which vary widely in their implementation details, the proposed language uses a limitation on state power to cooperate with federal efforts as the core of the program statement.  It reads:

“Prohibit Maryland officials from funding or participating in domestic espionage and bulk data collection. Prohibit Maryland from using or maintaining such data except in accordance with a constitutionally proper warrant.”

Within the State Government section was a sentence endorsing small, single member districts. The Committee recommended that this provision be removed, with some members arguing that not all libertarians agree that this is a necessary goal of libertarianism or a desirable change to Maryland’s electoral process.

Finally, within the Land Use, Transportation and Environment section, there is a statement that endorses land value taxation, which reads:

“Encourage efficient land use by reducing the tax on buildings and property improvements, leaving only assessments on land itself.”

The committee recommended this statement be removed. Not all libertarians agree that land value taxation is a good, or even the best, method of taxation and it was argued that the party should not take positions on particular taxation methods, leaving those policy choices to the candidates.

You can read all the proposed recommendations of the program committee in this PDF: 2014 Program Committee Recommendations