- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2016

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland legislators are trying to clean up the elections process and make it easier for voters, but they are split on how best to encourage transparency.

Sen. Ronald N. Young, Frederick County Democrat, defended on Thursday his bill that would require candidates and political action committees tied to a particular candidate to report any contributions over $1,000 within 48 hours.

Meanwhile, Sen. Delores G. Kelley, Baltimore County Democrat, pushed for her bill to prevent candidates who have lost in a primary election from running as write-in candidates in the general election.

Ms. Kelley said she wants to keep voters from being “confused” by seeing the same name on the ballot again, but opponents of her bill said there doesn’t seem to be much need for the change.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, Montgomery County Democrat, said she had won a primary only to have the loser mount a write-in campaign, and it was no threat to her own bid.

“My opponent in the 2014 primary did end up popping in as write-in in the general election,” Ms. Kagan said. “I was surprised, but I had no problem with it. And I think people know who they supported in the primary and there were very few votes for him in the general.”

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Campaign transparency is a national, state and local issue, and lawmakers generally agree that disclosure is a good thing. But how to achieve it remains controversial.

Mr. Young said his goal in his contributions-reporting legislation is to weed out corruption. He said he knows of fellow lawmakers who have supported certain projects, then received large contributions and quickly reversed their stances.

“The purpose of this is there’s a lot of evidence of people getting fairly large contributions that they don’t want people to see before the election, and I’m just asking for transparency,” Mr. Young said at a Senate Education, Health and Environment Committee hearing. “If they get a contribution at this level or larger, they have to report it right away so it’s on the record for anyone to see. In a way, I’m sorry I didn’t make this for all four years.”

Opponents,said Mr. Young’s proposal would apply to all contributions received, not just those deposited. Committee Chair Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat, said she sometimes rejects contributions from people she doesn’t want to be associated with, adding that it would be unfair to make her report that.

Advocates of the bill said those issues could be worked out but pleaded for the measure to be advance in the Senate.

“You can never have too much sunlight,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Maryland director of Common Cause.

Committee votes on the two bills are expected next week.

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