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The Partisan Republican Power Grab for the Harford County Board of Education

Harford County Republicans are shifting the goalposts to ensure they maintain control of the Harford County Board of Education. This partisan Republican power grab is being orchestrated through HB 283 and SB 382. The bills focus on changing the terms of the appointed board members and who gets to select them.

HB 283 was the original bill proposed by Del. Teresa Reilly at the request of a board member appointed by Gov. Hogan. The bill would have extended the terms of Hogan’s appointed members by an additional two years into the next governor’s term as well as stagger the four-year terms of elected and appointed members.

HB 283 had no opportunity for local input from the public, Harford County Delegation or Board of Education before its House hearing. Bipartisan amendments for the bill slowed down the process to consider more public input and other alternatives.

Harford County’s Republican Senators introduced SB 382 as another way to consolidate partisan power on the nonpartisan Board of Education. Sen. Jason Gallion said during the Harford County Delegation meeting on Feb. 18 the bill empowers the County Executive, instead of the governor, to appoint board members with County Council’s approval as well as stagger the four-year terms of elected and appointed members.

Amendments about the County Executive appointing board members with the approval of the County Council are not available to read yet. This is an obvious attempt to shift power and approve an amendment without public input before it goes to a committee hearing.

The proposed amendment for SB 382 is a major conflict of interest because the County Executive decides on approving operating budgets created by the Board of Education, but one-third of board members could be beholden to the County Executive.

There will be a hearing about SB 382 on March 3 at 1 p.m. during the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Matters Committee. Contact Sens. Bob CassillyJason Gallion and J.B. Jennings to let them know:

  1. You do not want to see any changes to the Harford County Board of Education
  2. The public needs to provide more input on legislation during the General Assembly’s recess
  3. Crafting legislation needs to be a more collaborative process with all stakeholders involved

Harford County residents can also submit testimony to the Senate Committee in opposition to SB 382.

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