• Stephen Buckingham

Maryland General Assembly to Convene in Special Session on December 6

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

In response to petitions from members and leaders of the Maryland General Assembly, Governor Hogan has signed a proclamation calling a special session beginning on December 6 to approve new districts for the State's eight congressional seats as well as all 47 state legislative districts for electing Senators and Delegates. Redistricting is required after the 2020 Census and competing maps will be considered for adoption. The Republican Governor and the Democratic Assembly leadership both established commissions to draw the new maps, so the special session will be contentious.

As a consequence of the upcoming session, any UULM-MD priority bills vetoed by the Governor in the 2021 regular session that ended in April must be brought up for an override if we want them to go into effect. This means we need to act immediately to reach our lawmakers to support override of two immigration bills, one criminal justice bill, and one climate change bill.

The Redistricting Process

In 2010, the Democratic Party in Maryland held the Governorship and a majority in both houses of the General Assembly, so they controlled the entire process. The result were districts at the State and federal level that greatly favored Democratic candidates for office. This year, the Governor is Republican, so he is responsible for submitting the maps to the Legislature. Unless the House and Senate agree on any changes, the maps will go into effect for the elections in the Fall of 2022.

To draw the new maps, both Governor Hogan and the General Assembly convened commissions they appointed for this purpose. Hogan’s Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission includes “one of the co-chairs, Walter Olson, a senior fellow with the right-wing Cato Institute, [who] has been calling most of the shots” according to Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters. But as Kurtz indicates, now that the General Assembly appointed its own commission, “[i]t’s the legislature’s commission that’s going to produce the congressional and legislative boundaries that get adopted — unless and until the maps get taken to court.”

Its Importance for Local and Statewide Races

Whichever set of maps is finally adopted, the first election after redistricting always creates new opportunities for candidates, given that lines shift to align with population changes. In 2014, the General Assembly gained more progressive lawmakers and even more in 2018. However, the opposite could be true in 2022, making these elections even more important. Every State Senator and Delegate will be running in brand new districts, so the composition of the General Assembly is not certain. In addition, all statewide offices are up for grabs, meaning that we will get a new Governor (Hogan is term limited), Comptroller (the incumbent is running for Governor), and a new Attorney General (with Brian Frosh retiring), The citizens of Maryland need to pay close attention to these races, regardless of what is happening nationally.

In 2020, many UUs in our state chose to work with national organizations and those in other states where turnout was crucial for progressive, liberal, and moderate candidates. This is understandable, since only local races for some municipal offices, school boards, judges and States Attorneys were contested. Despite the lack of attention, many of these positions are critical for such issues as criminal justice reform, gun violence, and education. In the coming year, many UUs are already talking about the “midterms,” a decidedly federal term for the US congressional elections held between presidential elections every four years. However, we cannot focus solely on national affairs, since the 2022 elections have much more importance at the state level. Without a Governor and State Senators and Delegates amenable to our values, we will have much more difficulty maintaining Maryland’s continuous progress on public policy issues.

UULM-MD plans to once again lead the UU the Vote effort in 2022 focusing on turning out Maryland voters for the critical state and local elections. But before that, we must pay attention to the special session. UULM-MD will not take a position on the partisan aspects of any redistricting plan, but we will be looking at the impact on representation for minority communities.

Veto Overrides:

Last Year, Governor Hogan Vetoed 4 of our priority legislations. With this new special session being announced, the General Assembly, it will be the only opportunity for the General Assembly to override the vetoes. This includes:

  • HB 16 - Dignity Not Detention Act

  • HB 23 - Maryland Driver Privacy Act

  • SB 202 - Parole Reform

  • SB 199/HB 114 - Transit Safety and Investment Act

Please click on the links below to contact your representatives and ask them to override Governor Hogan's vetoes.

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