Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sen. Brian Frosh Unilaterally Kills Youth Empowerment Bill // Majority of Colleagues Backed School Board Voting Rights

BACKGROUND - Over the last few weeks, Maryland Juice wrote about legislative progress to expand student representation on the Montgomery County Board of Education. For years, students throughout the county have voted on a high school senior or junior (aka the SMOB) to represent them on the school board. For almost as long, students have also fought for their SMOB to have a larger role in the Board of Education deliberations. This year, as Maryland was poised to grant Montgomery County's student rep a full vote on the school board, Senator Brian Frosh intervened to kill the effort.

Several notable youth advocates and education figures have spoken out, including Board of Education Member Chris Barclay, the MoCo Young Democrats, and more. A ruckus even broke out on the floor on Monday as several Montgomery Senators tried to save student representation from Senator Frosh's hatchet-job. Aided by a few leadership figures like Senators Rob Garagiola, Roy Dyson and Joan Carter-Conway, Frosh succeeded in using the clout he has developed after years in power to kill the young people's legislation. Below we print a quick recap of the issue, along with key Tweets from politicos

FROSH MAKES BLOCKING STUDENT VOTING A PRIORITY - Last Friday, reports from Annapolis indicated that even though a super-majority of Montgomery County's lawmakers supported full voting rights for their student school board member, Senator Brian Frosh decided to overrule the votes of his colleagues. Indeed, he could've simply voted against the bill on the floor to register his difference of opinion. Instead, Senator Frosh went out of his way on Monday -- while the budget negotiations were melting down -- to squash a student voting rights bill.

As Maryland Juice previously reported, Frosh's unusual efforts concern a bill that would grant full voting privileges to Montgomery County's elected student member of the Board of Education. The bill MC 9-12 passed unanimously in the Montgomery County House Delegation and 5-2 in the Senate. Students have fought for these rights for years, but Mr. Frosh decided to replace the judgment of the rest of the colleagues with his own by effectively placing a hold on the youth representation bill.

WHY SO CRAZED ABOUT THIS ISSUE AND NOT OTHERS?Of all the things to use your political clout for.... Notably, the student representation bill was filed as a "local bill" since it only applies to Montgomery County. As a matter of custom, these bills are approved by the members from other counties, as long as a majority of lawmakers from the affected county agreed to support the bill. In short, one should only violate the custom of local courtesy in an extreme circumstance -- otherwise, you create a precedent for lawmakers blocking bills for personal or trivial reasons. Amazingly, Senator Frosh saw voting representation for students on the school board as such a grave threat to democracy, that he was willing to overturn longstanding tradition (aka use his insider skills) to kill this bill. Maryland Juice would be curious to see how many times in his multi-decade legislative career Mr. Frosh has blocked a local bill. I would also like to see what other issues he has deemed so important that they warrant thwarting democracy and upending the legislative process.

YOUNG DEMS AND STUDENTS FIGHT BACK - The Montgomery County Young Democrats and high school activists alike fought until the bitter end to save student representation from Senator Frosh's rampage. See a few Tweets from over the past week below. Our panel of conscripted Tweeters includes: Delegate Anne Kaiser, Senator Bill Ferguson, Board of Education member Chris Barclay, former SMOB Tim Hwang, the MoCo Young Dems, MD Young Dems VP Joseph Kitchen, and Young Dems John Howes & John Mannes.



WTF MARYLAND SENATE LEADERSHIP: Maryland Juice thinks the current generation of Senate leaders acts as if "Rock and Roll" music (aka issues like same sex marriage and student voting rights) will be the downfall of society. GROW UP SENATORS.


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