In The News
To undo the damage that Citizens United caused, we need a constitutional amendment establishing that Congress and the states have the power to regulate and limit election spending. Doing so will overturn Citizens United, and end the backwards notion that “money equals speech” in our society. We also need to enact strong campaign finance reform to empower all voices to have a say in our society. For the last two Congresses, Rep. John Sarbanes has introduced the Government by the People Act, which would provide every American with a $25 refundable tax credit to help spur small-dollar contributions to candidates; establish a fund to match funds from small-dollar donations if the candidate forgoes traditional PAC money; and provide additional resources for citizen-funded candidates to help break the monopoly that super PACs currently hold.To undo the damage that Citizens United caused, we need a constitutional amendment establishing that Congress and the states have the power to regulate and limit election spending. Doing so will overturn Citizens United, and end the backwards notion that “money equals speech” in our society. We also need to enact strong campaign finance reform to empower all voices to have a say in our society. For the last two Congresses, Rep. John Sarbanes has introduced the Government by the People Act, which would provide every American with a $25 refundable tax credit to help spur small-dollar contributions to candidates; establish a fund to match funds from small-dollar donations if the candidate forgoes traditional PAC money; and provide additional resources for citizen-funded candidates to help break the monopoly that super PACs currently hold.
President Obama’s overhauled federal education law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, includes money for environmental education. This is the first time a federal education bill recognizes environmental literacy programs as part of a child’s “well-rounded” education. We explain what this means for Rhode Island….
… Knowlton said the new law’s inclusion of environmental education is the result of a movement known as No Child Left Inside. Sen. Jack Reed and Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland introduced a bill by that name. Now parts of that bill are included within the new overhauled education law.
Representative John Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland, who has introduced legislation to finance congressional campaigns with public money, said the order would be part of a “package of solutions” he has discussed with Mr. Obama to contain the influence of corporations in politics and empower ordinary citizens.
“It’s about having a referee there to police the conduct of the big-money players, but also bringing everyday Americans out of the bleachers and out onto the field themselves,” Mr. Sarbanes said.
"Money consistently is standing in the way of progress on any issue you can identify. It is the gateway issue," Sarbanes said, adding that when people realize that, they get interested in something as seemingly arcane as campaign finance reform.
"Over time you start to build a kind of army of people who get the fact that the issues they care about -- they need to stand up and become part of this fight against big money in politics. And that can be a pretty impressive coalition. It can cut across the political spectrum. And I think over time it's an undeniable force in our politics."
Sarbanes has talked about his ideas to Obama, who pledged in his State of the Union speech to push in the last year of his presidency to make politics better and easier for Americans again.
A White House spokesman praised Sarbanes' bill, but declined to say whether it figured in Obama's plans.
Fortunately, once again, there are solutions afoot that we can get behind to start turning back the tide. U.S. Representative John Sarbanes's (D-MD) Government By The People Act would provide refundable tax credits for average Americans who make small donations -- and it would match and leverage those contributions by a 6-1 ratio. A similar bill called the Fair Elections Now Act sits in the U.S. Senate, waiting for action and passage.
Thanks to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the overhaul of No Child Left Behind, millions more students will be rolling up their sleeves and getting their sneakers wet, to become healthier, more successful in school and more engaged with science.
It's taken eight years for the seeds of this success to bloom. Since 2007, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes have championed the changed policy, starting by introducing the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Act, which provided critical language used in the recent bill.
The NCLI act was supported by a coalition of 2,250 environmental groups, representing over 50,000,000 constituents. This movement capitalized on the momentum following Richard Louv's popular book "The Last Child in the Woods." The book exposed the alarming threats of "nature deficit disorder," or the negative psychological and physical effects — including obesity, loneliness, depression, attention problems and social isolation — that result from American kids spending an average of 6 hours each day in screen time, but only 4 minutes each day in unstructured outdoor play and discovery.
Representative John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland, has worked tirelessly with colleagues to pass viable campaign finance measures.
U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, who announced the grant, said he believes the April unrest was "particularly acute for our city schools," and that the events and the media coverage "shook many students' sense of security and diminished their faith in Baltimore's community."
"This grant funding is another positive step toward healing our city — one that will enable our schools to provide the kinds of social and psychological counseling that can help students feel safe again and that can encourage constructive conversations with students about the many social, economic and political issues facing our society," Sarbanes said.
“On more than one occasion, I’ve been walking in the Annapolis 4th of July Parade, and people have yelled out to me, ‘No Child Left Inside,’” said Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, who became one of the cause’s earliest champions in Congress. “So it definitely hit a nerve out there.”
In December, the work paid off. Congress replaced No Child Left Behind with the new Every Student Succeeds Act.
Although other agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have long had environmental education programs, the new law is the first time a bill covering primary and secondary education even mentioned environmental education.
“It seemed to me to be a grand omission,” Sarbanes said. “Those other agency’s involvement is fine and good and important, but educators look to the Department of Education. They are in large part driven by the grant opportunities that are available from the Department of Education.”
Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), a leading House advocate for campaign finance reforms, said in an interview that the spending deal was, on the whole, a win for opponents of big-money politics — more because of what it did not include than what it did include.
Not only did they manage to keep out the rider to expand party spending, but they also headed off an effort to hamstring the longstanding system of public financing for presidential campaigns.
“Washington increasingly seems to be captured by big money donors and special interests, and the public wants us to draw the line,” Sarbanes said. “And I think we were able to do that in a significant way by keeping those riders out. Obviously we would have like to have the other two riders excluded as well. … We’ll continue to fight that battle.”