How do your Legislators stack up?
MVFA, together with HSLF, has compiled Humane Scorecards for the last 2 election cycles, 2007-2010 and 2011-2014. When combined with the MVFA Voter Guide to humane candidates, this crucial information helps the statewide effort to elect Maryland legislators who are committed to fighting cruelty and passing stronger animal protection laws.
The scorecards show that when it comes to protecting animals, we are powerful! It is encouraging that both Republicans and Democrats are scoring 100% showing that the humane treatment of animals is important to Marylanders across party lines: your elected representatives are listening.
Scorecards give us a snapshot of the performance of our lawmakers. However, because of the way bills move through the legislature, sometimes these statistics can be misleading. Here’s why.
Under the Maryland system, bills must be voted on in committees before they can be sent to the Senate and House of Delegates for a floor vote. Once a bill makes it to the floor, many floor votes are unanimous as legislators often defer to the prior work of the committees. You might see higher than expected scores for some legislators which may not necessarily convey a legislator’s leadership on animal protection issues, or a legislator’s position on a bill that did not get a floor vote. This is why, in addition to a scorecard, the MVFA Voter Guide to humane candidates is carefully researched so you know who will be the most effective voice for animals when you vote.
It is notable that the scorecard reflects some, but not all animal welfare bills. Some of the most important animal protection bills are held back and die in committee, never receiving consideration or a vote at all. This is what happened to several bills including the Extreme Weather protection bill in 2014. Or, a bill may be killed in one committee and never addressed in the other, like the Animal Abuse Registry bill in 2012. There are also bills that are bad for animals, such as the Livestock Advisory bill in 2011, which are withdrawn and can’t be scored even though they involved significant efforts by MVFA and other animal advocacy organizations to defeat. Only a handful of bills make it out of both committees to be voted on by the entire House and Senate on the floor, such as the landmark Spay/Neuter bill, initiated by MVFA after the 2010 election and passed in 2013.
Confusing? Yes. So, before you vote, be sure to check the MVFA Voter Guide to humane candidates to see which legislators deserve your vote for demonstrated leadership and support on humane issues. Your vote is the voice for those who have nobody but you – the animals.
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