The Maryland House will call for a national constitutional convention aiming to overturn the Citizens United decision through a constitutional amendment.

The resolution HJ 11, which passed the chamber with a 93-43 vote Thursday, proposes the states meet to regulate election contributions before Jan. 20, 2026.

The proposal addresses the controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which overturned some prohibitions on election ads funded by corporations and unions. The 5-to-4 majority reasoned that restrictions on those organizations amounted to infringement of free speech. Critics have said it increased the influence of money in elections and made the cash flow harder to trace.

There are two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution, either through congressional action or through the states’ requests for a convention. To get a constitutional convention, two-thirds of the states need to agree to it. Then, for the states to amend the Constitution, three-fourths of them need to agree to the change.

The last constitutional convention was held in 1787. Last session, the General Assembly nullified four historical calls for a convention dating back to the 1930s: one from 1939 calling for limitations on federal taxing power, one from 1965 calling for state control over apportionment of state legislative bodies, one from 1973 to allow prayer in schools and another from 1975 calling for a balanced federal budget.

The recent proposal from Delegate Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George’s County) generated substantial floor debate.

Delegate David E. Vogt III (R-District 4) spoke out in favor of the resolution before voting for it. Acknowledging a previous speaker’s observation that Maryland does allow corporate contributions to candidates, he said the proposed action at the federal level was nevertheless a step in the right direction to reduce the influence of money in politics. He further said he would like to see limitations on how much a person can spend to finance their own campaign.

Vogt noted that campaign finance was the subject of his graduate thesis.

“I agree, from my own graduate research, that this is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Others, including Delegate Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County), encouraged her colleagues to vote against the resolution, saying that the both Democrats and Republicans had benefited from the decision. She said unions, not just corporations, had taken advantage of the ruling.

“Citizens United is about the First Amendment. It’s not about money in politics,” she said.

State of independence: Ijamsville resident Earl Robbins will seek signatures to run as an independent in the Frederick County executive race.

“I’m not satisfied with both of the parties. I was a Democrat, and there were some things that happened with the Democratic party that I did not approve of,” the retired manufacturing manager said. He explained that he didn’t feel that the party supported candidates who deserve it.

While he is still working out his platform, Robbins said he would be focused on transportation, education and the lack of affordable housing in Frederick.

Robbins, who spent 40 years at the East Alcoa Aluminum company, doesn’t have elected experience, but he has sat as the chairman of several boards such as the Frederick County Board of Education and the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce. He was also appointed the community chairman of the Downtown Hotel and Conference Center Project.

While he expects it will be a challenge to get the required signatures to run independently, he said “I’m up for the challenge.”

To be on the ballot, Robbins will need the signatures of at least one percent of registered voters in the County. He plans to collected signatures each Thursday at Cafe 611 from 6 to 7 p.m. following his campaign kickoff next Thursday.

Going Hollywood for a cause: Classmates4Life, an anti-heroin video contest started by Councilman Billy Shreve (R), will hold an awards ceremony March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Frederick High School for the best submitted video.

People can vote for the “People’s Choice Awards” winner by liking their favorite video on YouTube.

Students who created the 30- to 60-second videos were asked about the dangers of drugs and how they could negatively affect their lives.

“The goal of our contest was to get students talking about this crisis. What better way is there than to encourage them to share films on social media,” Shreve said in a statement.

Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiLoos.

(9) comments

mattwsmc

Szeliga may be correct that both Democrats and Republicans had benefited from the decision, but the US government doesn't represent Dems and Reps, they represent THE PEOPLE. The parties have benefited at the expense of their constituents, and that only serves to highlight the problem. Nobody wants just corporations unable to spend unlimited money in elections. Unions, individuals, no one should be able to finance our elections. She is being actively disingenuous in saying that CU is not about money in politics, that is literally the subject of CU. It doesn't deal with protests. It doesn't deal with social media posts. It deals with spending on campaigns. Spending money. In political campaigns. Money. In politics. Pretty clear to anyone who is being genuine.

Doug Miller

This convention, if it ever does happen, will not happen tomorrow. This is the fifth consecutive General Assembly session that we have been pursuing this convention call (it passed the Senate in 2015). If it passes the state Senate this year, Maryland will be just the sixth state to have issued a convention call on the issue of campaign finance. It is limited to that topic and does not authorize delegates to address any other. By the time we get anywhere close to the 34 states required, it will be many years, perhaps even decades down the road, by which time we'll have grown by many times our citizen movement to take back our democracy from the wealthy special interests that now command it. And as has often happened in U.S. history, Congress will be compelled to send its own amendment out to the states rather than let this convention, which so many all along the political spectrum seem to fear, actually happen. So much the better. We're seeking an amendment, not a convention. But without the prodding of a potential Article V convention, Congress will likely never propose an amendment, so desperately needed, to reverse disastrous Supreme Court rulings -- Buckley, Citizens United, McCutcheon -- equating money with speech and endowing corporations with First Amendment rights previously afforded only to human beings.

jjsacks

The passing of HJ 11 by the State House this past Thursday was a brave and necessary action, it is needed to stand up to the corruption that influence of money in our political system has. Some have said that money doesn't matter, that Citizens United isnt about money. What they are missing is that the over all campaign finance system or lack there of has allowed for legalized bribery. Congress spends a third of their day dialing for dollars. Corporations spend a significant amount of money to ensure that they have the ear and consideration of Congress and even a chance to write the very legislation that benefits them leaving the American people out of the equation. Big donors and special interests, including unions and dark money groups all get a chance to spend money on our political campaigns to do the same. Congress members have said that this an issue that they are plagued with and the system is broken. This is about restoring our representative democracy, to having the people's voice heard again. The Maryland House recognized this and wants to take action for the people of Maryland. This isn't a Republican or a Democrat issue, this is an American issue and until will mend what is broken we are far from the Republic that we once were and could be. So thank you to those that voted yes, and thank you to those in the state Senate who will vote yes as well.

glenkrc

There are a lot of good reasons to call for an Article V Convention. This is not one of them.

mattwsmc

it is actually

joelp77440

It's too dangerous for a convention right now. If we had one to expel Citizen's United we may up with a amendment to keep Trump in office for life. "The best laid plans of mice and men." - John Steinbeck.

mattwsmc

How would we end up with an amendment for a prez-for-life if a convention were called upon a consensus regarding campaign finance? A majority of the delegates would have to agree that this is the amendment that they want, then the states would have to ratify it. Congress has the power to withhold an amendment that does not conform to the consensus for which it is called, and SCOTUS would be able to adjudicate whether or not the consensus had been adhered to. If you have so little faith in our government, then the Constitution is already meaningless.

mattwsmc

Plus, you are assuming that this convention will happen within four years. It takes time to gather consensus. The Balanced Budget People have been working for decades, and they never got past 32 states. The Free and Fair Elections resolution has been around for seven years, and it has only gotten five. Even assuming that Trump gets a second term, you are looking at another decade, plus the time it takes to deliberate over the rules and quorum of the convention. There's a memo from the DOJ written in 1987 that dives deep into the issues that surround the AV convention and amendments in general. Give it a look. http://wawolfpac.org/DoJonArticleV.pdf

DisabledFrederickVeteran

Republicans politicians are against this because they are beholden to globalists corporations that have profited from the displacement of millions of US workers including the hundreds of illegals workers who constructed Trump Tower. MAGA?

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