“Pay-to-Play” tanks in the legislature | WYPR

“Pay-to-Play” tanks in the legislature

Mar 7, 2017

Developers in Baltimore County will be able to continue contributing to the campaigns of county candidates after all.

A proposed ban on that kind of contribution died Monday in Annapolis at the hands of Baltimore County lawmakers.

State Senator Jim Brochin’s so-called “pay-to-play” bill could not get enough support to get voted out of the county’s Senate delegation. So Brochin says that means it’s dead.

The legislation sparked a spirited debate among the senators.

Brochin, a Democrat, said battles between neighborhood associations and developers with deep pockets just aren’t a fair fight. Senator Johnny Ray Salling, a Republican, joined Brochin in supporting the bill, saying developers are influencing political decisions.

“And I don’t want that to happen again in Baltimore County, period. I don’t,” Salling said.

But Senator Bobby Zirkin countered you can’t pick and choose the first amendment rights to free speech based on who has money and who doesn’t.

“If people think the council are doing the wrong thing then they should vote them out,” Zirkin said. “That is the ultimate power of the people is at the ballot box.”

Brochin is contemplating running for Baltimore County Executive next year. If he decides to go for it, the influence of developers in the county will be a major campaign theme.