Bill would allow 16-year-olds to register to vote
House rejects effort to keep minors out of voter database
House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell objected to having minors' names included in voter registration rolls. The 16- and 17-year-olds could then be contacted by political parties. He wanted the State Board of Elections to shield the minors' information from voter lists the state sells to candidates and political parties.
"We shouldn't expose our young people that this vagary of governmental excess," said O'Donnell (R-Dist. 29C).
He attempted to amend the legislation, first by keeping the minors in a separate database and second by requiring parental permission to register to vote. Both were rejected.
The legislation awaits final action in House next week. The Senate has yet to vote on the bill.
The House also gave its blessing on an update to child support laws in a 113-26 vote. Del. Tony McConkey (R-Dist. 33A) of Severna Park opposed the bill saying it provided a one-size-fits-all approach to child support. Del. Kathleen M. Dumais (D-Dist. 15) of Rockville said the measure was well vetted first by a panel seated to study the issue and secondly by the House Judiciary Committee.
A bill that would change the way prisoners are counted in the census received House approval, over the objection of rural lawmakers. Prisoners now are counted in the census based on where they are incarcerated.
The "No Representation Without Population Act" would not change population tallies in relation to federal programs. But the bill would count the prisoners in their home districts for legislative and congressional redistricting.
The state's prisons are largely in rural counties and those lawmakers expressed concerns that the prisoners still need local services.
The measure passed 99-40. Similar legislation passed the Senate last week.
A bill that would change a state-run health insurance plan so it could receive federal funds passed the House despite O'Donnell's attempt to link it to constitutional questions surrounding the health reform legislation signed by President Obama last week.
The bill would allow the Maryland Health Insurance Plan, which provides affordable coverage for nearly 18,000 people that companies won't, to enter agreements with the U.S. government.
MHIP would then be eligible for part of $5 billion in a federal program.
O'Donnell offered an amendment that would allow MHIP subscribers to maintain private insurance if they chose to. The amendment was rejected 96-43. Six Democrats joined the 37 members of the Republican caucus.
On Friday, the House Appropriations Committee rejected a Senate plan that would gradually shift teacher pensions onto the counties.