Progressive Maryland's 2022 Legislative Agenda
Criminal Justice & Police Reform
Progressive Maryland is fighting to end the mass incarceration of people of color in our state. Eliminating the use of cash bail, reducing pretrial detention and increasing rights for our immigrant communities are all reforms that would bring us significantly closer to that goal. We are advocating for probation over deportation (SB0265) and ensuring that immigrants have access to legal counsel in deportation proceedings (SB0129). We are also advocating for a Good Samaritan law, which would prohibit the arrest of anyone experiencing a medical emergency after using alcohol or drugs or anyone trying to assist someone in such a situation (HB0190); and funding for entrepreneurship development programs for formerly incarcerated people via the Maryland New Start Act of 2022 (HB0158).
Revisioning the role of police in our communities is also key. We are advocating for the removal of police from schools to enhance the safety of students; and the requirement of minimizing the presence of police in responses to a behavioral health crisis in order to minimize law enforcement interaction with individuals in such a crisis and increase public safety in our communities (SB0012). We are also supporting higher standards of transparency within policing such as stricter use of body-worn cameras with public access to data and recordings (HB0162); and accountability for police like with the creation of a civilian review board in Baltimore City (SB0309).
We are supporting the decriminalization of all drugs and drug paraphernalia; and the legalization of marijuana for adult use and possession (HB0001).
We believe that decriminalization is only rightfully paired with the expungement of records. We are pushing for records to be automatically erased due to a variety of reasons including dismissed charges based on mistaken identity (SB0016) as well as for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana (SB0026).
We are also advocating for the creation of Overdose Prevention Sites, the immunity of people who seek help in medical emergencies, the decriminalization of paraphernalia, and other methods designed to address the ongoing overdose crisis. We support ending the requirement for prior authorization of the MD Medical Assistance Program to administer drug products to treat opioid use disorder in order to remove any barriers to saving a life (SB0323) along with authorizing any emergency medical services providers to dispense naloxone for treatment of drug overdose under the Statewide Targeted Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act of 2022 (SB0394).
We’ve long known that our corporate healthcare system is unjust and inequitable, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more clear than ever that we need major reforms. We are advocating for a measure that will require Maryland hospitals to reimburse low-income patients they have dramatically overcharged for care. We are also supporting multiple bills that will implement paid family and medical leave for workers across the state.
The Access to Care Act will expand vital health services and coverage to members of our immigrant communities by allowing them to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act regardless of their immigration status. And we’re supporting a commission to study the implementation of a single payer healthcare system in Maryland to help us move toward Medicare for All.
We will continue to advocate for greater investment in community health services, including overdose prevention sites, vaccination programs, and other preventative and primary care services.
Labor & Economic Justice:
We believe that all workers are entitled to safe workplaces and proper compensation. Passing a stronger Essential Workers Protection Act will provide for our essential workers through this immediate crisis. Furthermore, repairing the broken unemployment insurance system, guaranteed paid sick and family leave for all, anti-discrimination legislation for working moms, and closing loopholes in minimum wage law will benefit workers now and into the future. The bottom line is that we need to establish the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program in the Maryland Department of Labor through the Time to Care Act of 2022 (SB0275).
We support the right of all workers to unionize and we stand behind bills that will expand collective bargaining rights (SB0118, SB0255, HB0374) and prevent companies from writing off payments to union busting firms as a business expense on their taxes (HB0172). We also support doing away with all federal student loans to improve financial equity, support our workers, and improve our economy.
Maryland is one of the most expensive states in the country to live in. In these unprecedented times, we need to stop evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs; and provide payment assistance for Marylanders who have fallen behind on rent and mortgages for reasons far beyond their control. As we look to the future, we must invest in social housing and ensure that landlords’ screening processes don’t penalize potential tenants through credit checks and other similar mechanisms.
Environment, Energy & Transportation:
Black, Brown and Indigenous communities deserve the same clean air and water as white communities. The MD Environmental Human Rights Amendment and ending government subsidies for trash incineration are just a couple of the necessary changes that will protect communities of color from racist, predatory land use decisions. We are pushing for an amendment that would add the following two provisions to the Declaration of Rights Section of the MD State Constitution: 1. that everyone has the fundamental and inalienable right to a healthy and sustainable environment of which shall not be infringed; and 2. that the State shall protect, conserve, and enhance our natural resources, including air, lands, waters, wildlife, and ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations.
With that said, we are advocating for an alteration to the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard so that the definition of a Tier 1 Renewable Source would exclude certain biomass in which waste-to-energy incineration would no longer be part of this category nor be able to receive the benefits under this categorization. Along with eliminating trash incineration under the Reclaim Renewable Energy Act of 2022 (HB0011), we are supporting the electrification of residential homes as long as investments and profits are going directly into low-income, high-burdened communities. This includes requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide funding for energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households (HB0108); and the Department of Human Services to allow anyone to benefit from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program which currently has eligibility requirements (HB0138).
In the transportation sector, we have previously supported increased funding for the equitable expansion of public transit and are now working to ensure that equity is implemented in state transportation plans and reports. As part of that, we support requiring the Department of Transportation to conduct transit equity analyses and consult with certain communities before announcing or proposing service changes (SB0023). We believe that access to public transportation should be abundant, affordable and equitable and this legislation is a step in the right direction.
We believe that K-12 school curriculums should reflect the diverse and expansive history of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people and immigrants in this country and across the world. We also support increased funding for outdoor education and the expansion of internet access in underserved public schools, particularly those located in low-income communities of color.
Many workers in Maryland's higher education system are exploited and dramatically underpaid, and we support legislation that will grant them collective bargaining rights, empowering them to fight for fair compensation and be treated with dignity by their employers.
When corporations and the super wealthy are the ones who fund our elections, our elected officials are more responsive to their donors than they are to their constituents and everyday Marylanders. We need publicly financed elections for General Assembly races to reduce the outsize influence of big money in our government, which is why we are supporting the Public Financing Act (SB0358).
Corporations and the wealthy benefit financially from police and fire departments, roads and public transit, an educated workforce, and many other services provided by the government. We need to ensure they are paying their fair share of taxes by closing loopholes and raising taxes for multi-millionaires. The Corporate Tax Fairness Act of 2022 (SB0360) will require certain corporations to compute Maryland taxable income using a certain combined reporting method.