Baltimore senator says he didn't sponsor voter ID bill introduced under his name

State Sen. Nathaniel Oaks, an African-American lawmaker from Baltimore, says a bill filed under his name that many of his fellow Democrats say would suppress the black vote, wasn't his.Oaks, a former delegate who is the Senate's newest member, said the...

Baltimore senator says he didn't sponsor voter ID bill introduced under his name

State Sen. Nathaniel Oaks, an African-American lawmaker from Baltimore, says a bill filed under his name that many of his fellow Democrats say would suppress the black vote, wasn't his.

Oaks, a former delegate who is the Senate's newest member, said the bill to require a government-issued photo identification card to vote was apparently listed with his name as sponsor because of a mistake by the Department of Legislative Services. He said the bill has been withdrawn.

The legislation was sponsored in the House of Delegates by Del. Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican.

Oaks' listed sponsorship of the Senate version stood out as an anomaly — much as a Western Maryland lawmaker filing a bill to ban bear-hunting would be.

Civil rights groups oppose bills that would require identification to vote because, they contend, many low-income voters can't afford or don't have access to government-issued IDs, such as driver's licenses.

Nathaniel T. Oaks, a Democrat who represented Baltimore in the House of Delegates for almost 30 years, is now a senator.

Oaks, 70, took the oath of office in the Senate chamber Friday afternoon after waiting out a lengthy debate on the powers of the Maryland Attorney General's Office. He started...

Nathaniel T. Oaks, a Democrat who represented Baltimore in the House of Delegates for almost 30 years, is now a senator.

Oaks, 70, took the oath of office in the Senate chamber Friday afternoon after waiting out a lengthy debate on the powers of the Maryland Attorney General's Office. He started...

Oaks asked a reporter Monday why any black legislator would sponsor such a bill.

The new senator said a bill was also mistakenly filed under his name to raise the salary of the state's attorney for Anne Arundel County, a bill that would normally be filed by the county delegation or one of its members. Oaks said that bill was also withdrawn.

Oaks said he believed the mix-up was related to his transition from the House to the Senate in mid-session.

The voting bill, similar to legislation passed in some Republican-dominated states but stymied in the courts, stands little chance of passage in Democrat-dominated Maryland General Assembly. But Oaks said he received a call about the bill from the ACLU after the Seventh State blog reported his apparent sponsorship.

Councilman Brandon Scott and City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young push for legislation that would make the Baltimore Police Department a city agency, allowing the city council oversight over their budget, staffing and other issues. (Yvonne Wenger/Baltimore Sun video)

Councilman Brandon Scott and City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young push for legislation that would make the Baltimore Police Department a city agency, allowing the city council oversight over their budget, staffing and other issues. (Yvonne Wenger/Baltimore Sun video)

Activists staged a protest at a Board of Public Works in Annapolis, demanding Gov. Larry Hogan speak out against some of President Donald Trump's policies. (Michael Dresser/Baltimore Sun video)

Activists staged a protest at a Board of Public Works in Annapolis, demanding Gov. Larry Hogan speak out against some of President Donald Trump's policies. (Michael Dresser/Baltimore Sun video)

A veteran lawmaker, Oaks was recently chosen to replace former Sen. Lisa Gladden after she retired for health reasons.

mdresser@baltsun.com

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