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.