Maryland’s legislation addressing the use of conflict minerals from eastern Congo in electronics products breezed through an important hurdle over the weekend, passing the House of Delegates unanimously on Saturday. The State Senate passed a similar bill by a vote of 46-0 two weeks earlier, leaving only a largely procedural reconciliation process between the House and Senate bills before a final version is sent to Governor Martin O’Malley’s desk. Final votes are expected within the coming weeks.
The Enough Project commends the original sponsors of this legislation, State Delegate Shane Robinson and Senator Karen Montgomery, for their leadership for Congo and congratulates them on unanimous passage through both chambers.
Upon passage of the legislation, Maryland will become the second state in the country to institute a law regarding conflict minerals from Congo. California paved the way last October, and similar legislation is also currently being considered in Massachusetts. These efforts are being echoed by students and community leaders across the country working to encourage their administrators, city councils, and faith groups to pass resolutions calling on industry bodies and the U.S. government to take the steps to support legitimate mining in eastern Congo.
Raise Hope for Congo Campaign Manager JD Stier commented on what Maryland’s legislation means for the movement: “With a growing number of activists around the nation dedicating more time to the movement calling for peace in Congo, final passage of Maryland’s conflict-free legislation would mark a significant national accomplishment for the many thousands of Americans and Congolese fighting so hard for change.”
Maryland’s legislation marks a growing trend of local decision makers using their power to impact change in Congo. Efforts like these send a strong signal that consumers in the United States want to make ethical purchasing decisions and support a minerals trade in Congo that benefits rather than destroys communities.
The Enough Project will be closely following the final push for passage of Maryland’s legislation.
Photo: Maryland State Delegate Shane Robinson at an event co-hosted with Enough to promote the bill in January (Enough)