Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ben Kramer’s Record in Annapolis, Part Two

Today, we look at Delegate Ben Kramer’s (D-19) record on environmental issues, GLBT rights and crime.


The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gave Kramer an 86% score in 2007 and a 75% score in 2008. In his favor, Kramer voted for the clean cars bill, the stormwater management bill, an energy efficiency fund and against harmful hydraulic dredging in the Chesapeake Bay. But LCV knocked him for voting against a 2007 bill that limited industrial construction on land designated as Critical Areas near the bay and voting for a 2008 bill that delayed anti-phosphorus regulations. Kramer’s lifetime score of 79% is the lowest of any Montgomery County state legislator other than his sister, District 14 Senator Rona Kramer (who scores 68%). The average score for House Democrats was 85% in 2008 and 91% in 2007.

GLBT Rights

Equality Maryland gave Kramer a 60% score in 2008, tied for the lowest among Montgomery legislators with Senators Rob Garagiola (D-15), Brian Frosh (D-16) and Nancy King (D-39) and Delegates Luiz Simmons (D-17) and Herman Taylor (D-14). While all of the above legislators supported domestic partner rights, none of them co-sponsored HB 351, which would have allowed gay marriage. Kramer is co-sponsoring the 2009 gay marriage bill, the only legislator above to change his mind.


As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, crime has been Kramer’s top priority. Twelve of the twenty bills he has lead-sponsored have dealt with crime. This year, Kramer has lead-sponsored bills targeting hate crimes, crimes against the elderly, identity and credit fraud against the elderly and disabled and financial exploitation of the elderly. Kramer has lead-sponsored a bill mandating ignition interlocks on cars owned by convicted drunk drivers and two bills limiting “good-time credits” for violent inmates. Kramer’s bills often attract support from Republicans, including Delegates Don Dwyer (R-31), Susan McComas (R-35B), Christopher Shank (R-2B) and Michael Smigiel (R-36).

Two other bills merit comment.

Kramer co-sponsored a bill by Republican Delegate Tony McConkey (R-33A) that would have made it easier for domestic abuse victims to acquire firearms permits. The bill failed on an 86-51 vote. Kramer and District 17 Delegate Luiz Simmons were the only Montgomery legislators who voted for it. Lieutenant Governor Brown’s spokesman Mike Raia called it a “misguided measure.”

Kramer voted for Simmons’ abuser expungement bill three times - once in committee and twice on the floor. The bill, which would have allowed accused abusers whose petitions were denied or dismissed by a judge to expunge their records, was opposed by female legislators by a nearly 2-1 margin.

Tomorrow, we will conclude by assessing Kramer’s reputation in Annapolis.