Bill 87 Expands SMOB’s Voting Rights and Power


Photo Courtesy of Eric Guerci

This is Guerci’s second term as SMOB as he was re-elected last school year. Earlier this year, he advocated for expanded SMOB voting rights in Annapolis.

By Emily Wang, Features Editor

The passage and signing of House Bill 87, which grants the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) expanded voting powers, is a major step in student representation on the Board of Education. Governor Larry Hogan signed House Bill 87 Mar. 10 and has been in effect since July 1.
“Many of the new items I can vote on affect student’s daily lives. This student perspective is as necessary as ever, yet cannot be properly utilized without a more complete vote on Board of Education matters,” SMOB Eric Guerci said. “The expansion of SMOB voting rights would truly bring to light a countywide commitment to advancing the student voice.”
The bill will increase SMOB voting powers by granting them the same rights and privileges of an elected member with the exception of matters on disciplinary action against personnel.
Among the new powers granted to the SMOB is the right to vote on the capital and operating budget, school closings, reopenings, and boundaries and collective bargaining. Anne Arundel County is currently the only other county in Maryland which grants a student full voting rights.
According to Guerci, while the new voting powers have not changed his participation in the BOE, they have allowed his vote to be officially counted instead of simply recorded.
Bills that focused on expanding the SMOB’s power have been proposed before in 2012 and 2015, but were special ordered (consideration of the bill was postponed to a future time) by former Senator Brian Frosh during the second reading and filibustered minutes before sine die (assembly adjourned).
“It is hard to say why certain bills do not pass in certain years,” Legislative Aide to the Board of Education Patricia Swanson said. “There are many different pieces and strategies that go into a bill passing and passing a bill is extremely difficult. Often, a bill has to be introduced many times in many different sessions before it finally passes.”
Consideration on the house bill was postponed by special order, until Senator Hershey adopted March 29, but aside from a brief debate on the Senate floor, the bill passed through without noticeable problems.