As I sat Monday evening (2/20/2017) in the meeting room of the Central library in Columbia watching a documentary called “Fix It,” about the advantages of the single payer system embodied in the expanded Medicare for all bill languishing in congress for the past decade, I realized everything is connected.
The reason this common sense bill is languishing is the same reason Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill allowing importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada failed – thanks to “no” votes from some Democrats like New Jersy’s Sen. Cory Booker. It is the same reason congress expressly prohibited Medicare from bargaining for lower drug prices.
It’s the same old story: the lobbyists and special interests with the deepest pockets win every time.
But Howard County voters showed in November that they favor a change. They voted with a clear majority to change the financing rules for people running for county executive and county council, starting in 2022. Instead of looking for $3,000 or $4,000 donations from developers, zoning lawyers, contractors and big unions, voters here chose a voluntary citizens election fund that would match donations of up to $150 with public money and limit how much participating candidates can spend. This is estimated to cost the county up to about $600,000 a year set aside to fill this fund. I think it is a very cheap investment in preserving our democracy, perhaps even more valuable in the long run that our investments in schools, police, fire and health services.
Now, with the pre-filing of legislation March 23, formal introduction April 3 and a public hearing April 19, it is the county council’s turn to enact laws that will put this reform program into operation. and we have an added advantage, since Montgomery county will use the same system next year in 2018 and we can see what works best.
PLEASE COME to the public hearing April 19, at 7 pm at the George Howard building on Court House Drive in Ellicott City and show your support! Nothing is automatic. One council member, Republican Greg Fox, and Republican county executive Alan Kittleman, are opposed to this reform. They claim to favor campaign finance reform but say they oppose this method. But since this is the only way to achieve a real reform, they really oppose it completely.
If all four Democrats vote for it, they can override Kittleman’s expected veto, but one, West Columbia Democrat Mary Kay Sigaty has not yet said how she is likely to vote. We have to persuade her to support the bill so it is veto-proof. Call her office, send her an e-mail or a post card. Urge her to support it!
If you live in West Columbia, from Dorsey Hall to Fulton, Mary Kay represents you. Let her know how you feel.