Maryland Lawmakers File Bill to Cut Power, Water to NSA Headquarters

Eight Republicans in the state have supported the bill.

Feb 12 2014, 12:00am
Check out all those parking spots. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Eight Maryland lawmakers have submitted legislation that would cut electricity and water to the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade.

The bill is the result of a grassroots campaign called Off Now that Motherboard covered a couple weeks ago—turns out that its leader, Michael Boldin, found some lawmakers who were willing to play along. All eight of the the Fourth Amendment Protection Act’s supporters are Republicans in the heavily Democratic state.

Maryland delegate Michael Smigiel, who introduced the bill, said he wants Maryland “standing with its back to its people holding a shield. Not facing them holding a sword,” and, in a pretty quick about turn, added that he did not want filing the bill to be a symbolic gesture.

“Maryland has almost become a political subdivision of the NSA,” Boldin said in a statement. “The agency relies heavily on state and local help. This bill bans all of it.”

The bill does not mention the NSA by name, but would make it illegal for the state to support any federal agency that does unwarranted surveillance.

“It is the policy of the state to refuse material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency that claims the power to, or with any federal law, rule, regulation, or order that purports to, authorize the collection of electronic data or metadata of a person in accordance with an action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place, and thing to be searched or seized,” the bill reads.

That means electricity, water, and other public services would be unavailable to the headquarters. The Maryland house of delegates has 141 members and a two-to-one Democrat-to-Republican ratio, which means a coalition of eight delegates will need to grow a fair bit before anything actually happens. So far, no Democrats have come out in favor of the bill. 

The legislation is an “emergency” bill, meaning the lawmakers believe it’s “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health or safety.” That means the bill would become law from the date it is passed, however it would need a three-fifths majority in order to pass, further lengthening the odds it’s passed.

The bill will be officially considered with a hearing on March 6 by the Maryland House Judiciary Committee.