In The News
Baltimore’s congressional representatives vowed Monday to fight a Republican tax bill they said would damage the city and state, and encouraged residents to speak out as well.... “I think we can stop it,” U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes said, “but we’ve got to make sure we stick together.” Sarbanes and U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, all Democrats, spoke at a town hall meeting Monday at the War Memorial Building in Baltimore. Billed as an opportunity to address their representatives, the event drew more than 100 people. Mayor Catherine Pugh also attended the event, which was organized by Indivisible Baltimore, a liberal grassroots advocacy group.... The tax plan currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate would make deep cuts to corporate and business tax rates, while also reducing tax rates for many individuals.... To cheers from the audience, Cummings, Ruppersberger and Sarbanes promised to push back against such cuts.
For weeks, Facebook has been under intense scrutiny in Washington after revelations about Russian attempts to use the platform to influence the 2016 elections. Now, some lawmakers are talking about turning that scrutiny into action.... There are new calls on Capitol Hill for stronger federal regulation of Facebook, possibly requiring greater transparency and disclosures for digital political ads. But lawmakers have yet to take up more sweeping reforms that some internet policy experts and advocates believe are necessary to protect users of the social-media platform, given Facebook’s outsize influence and vast stores of personal data.... Two Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Warner of Virginia, together with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, introduced a bill last month that would require large online platforms to maintain public files of political ads, including who purchased the ads, the targeted audience and the number of views they generated. The legislation would also require these platforms to “make all reasonable efforts” to guarantee that foreign entities and individuals aren’t buying political ads to influence American elections.... The bill has also attracted bipartisan support in the House, where it was introduced by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.... “This is a very good start in terms of setting up expectations of transparency and disclosure,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., House chairman of his party’s Democracy Reform Task Force. “Online platforms have a great deal of political power.”
If the Senate does not restore a deep, House-passed cut in federal funding to the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program, the ripple effect on Maryland conservation efforts could be far larger than what the state would lose in actual dollars, according to program supporters.... Van Hollen recently introduced legislation to increase funding by $200 million for a program that supports agriculture-related conservation efforts to protect the bay. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, was a co-sponsor of the companion bill in the House.
Three Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation will appear at a town hall meeting in Baltimore on Monday to discuss the Republican effort in Washington to overhaul the nation’s tax code.... Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, all of whom represent a portion of Baltimore, will speak at the forum, organized by BMore Indivisible. All three lawmakers voted against a GOP tax overhaul approved by the House on Nov. 16. The Senate is now considering a similar bill and Congress is working to finish the legislation — a top priority for President Donald Trump — by the end of the year.
House Democrats are pushing the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to take more aggressive action in curbing foreign influence in U.S. elections.... Eighteen members of Congress led by Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) urged the FEC in a letter on Thursday to treat political advertisements on social media platforms in the same way that it treats TV or radio ads.... Sarbanes and company argued that with such measures in place, foreign manipulation of social media platforms during the 2016 U.S. election would not have happened.... “There is reason to believe that if we had a more effective disclaimer regime for political internet advertisements during the 2016 election cycle, a portion of the illicit foreign campaign spending might have been prevented,” the lawmakers wrote.
“With the 2018 midterm elections just around the corner, Congress must come together and advance bipartisan reforms to prevent foreign agents from undermining our electoral process,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, who chairs the Democracy Reform Task Force.
“We’re still kind of digesting what’s being proposed by these recent companies,” Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., told the Washington Examiner. “My expectation is that in addition to whatever ad disclosures happen at a granular level, in terms of what hits the user on Facebook or Twitter and their ability to see ads that are running at them, there also needs to be a centralized platform easily accessed by the public that rolls up the ad-buys in a variety of ways that allow people to determine what kind of activity is actually happening.” ... And Sarbanes said the Honest Ads Act sets a good standard for lawmakers as they examine the new policies Internet companies roll out.... “We can use that as a benchmark for judging some of the voluntary proposals that are being put forward by these various companies,” he said. “I think it is important that as legislators, we kind of have our radar up that these companies aren’t trying to end-run this conversation and preempt appropriate legislative action that will protect the public’s interest to provide the disclosure and transparency that ought to be in place.” ... Lawmakers may have to work through disagreements with Internet companies over proposed regulations and legislation, but for Sarbanes, there is an element of haste for both parties.... “It doesn’t help us much if we design and propose the perfect centralized database or if these companies themselves come up with the absolute Cadillac model of what disclosure looks like if it’s not ready and available until two years from now or even right before the election,” he said of the 2018 midterm elections. “They need to move quickly, and Congress needs to move quickly to make sure the remedy we’re looking for here is in place earlier rather than later with respect to this election year, so that by the time people are focusing on getting information and making decisions about candidates and campaigns and the election, they have plenty of information at their fingertips to do that in a responsible way.”
It seems that most Americans can agree that they are feeling ignored. For years politicians have overlooked the majority of their constituents’ actual concerns about finances, the environment, and health. Instead, they listen to the small group of wealthy people who funnel millions of dollars to their campaigns.... In the past I’ve written about both Maryland groups and local candidates who are working to change this corrupt, oligarchic system. However, what if there was someone on the inside who desired change as well? What if a U.S. Congressman was on our side? ... Be it karma, or ethics, John Sarbanes is just that. Our own local District 3 Representative is proposing solutions to this problem at the federal level! ... Knowing the Congressman’s interest in campaign finance reform, I reached out to him for more information on this bill and his reasoning for sponsoring it.
“The indictments handed down yesterday have ratcheted up concerns about Russia’s efforts to undermine the American electoral process,” Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, said in a statement. “This is an-all-hands-on-deck situation that demands immediate action from Congress.”
A national state of emergency designation — rather than the public health emergency Trump announced — would have given the White House and the administration more power to free up treatment funding…. “It’s not nothing, but it’s not nearly adequate to the challenge,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat who has been a leading voice on the issue, of Thursday’s announcement. “It’s a big missed opportunity on the part of the president to show that our response as a nation is going to be one that is up to and meets the challenge.” … Trump also promised to support efforts at the National Institutes of Health to pursue research into non-addictive painkillers…. Sarbanes and public health experts said those ideas sounded fine, but they questioned the administration’s commitment given other changes the White House has proposed. The Trump administration has sought major cuts to both traditional Medicaid and the expanded Medicaid program approved in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this year the administration called for a $5.8 billion cut to NIH funding.