It’s Sine Die, the day that the 2023 General Assembly session will gavel to a close for this year, somewhere around midnight.
Good work got done -- but some important stuff was overlooked. A bill called Access to Care, which would give about a quarter-million Marylanders a chance to buy health insurance on the exchange that they can’t access now because of their immigration status, is stuck in the Senate Finance committee.
Recreational Marijuana can go on sale July 1 (see below), but a provision insuring full labor rights for employees is missing.
That is some of the News You Can Use, with more below.
And totally off the radar for the Assembly (which will party down tonight, liquidly, after the gavel falls, a venerable tradition), Charles County officials are evicting members of the Cedarville Band of indigenous peoples from land they have occupied for thirty years, to the county’s cultural benefit and enrichment. The ACLU, fighting the eviction despite near-zero news coverage of the conflict, states
“The very fact that the Cedarville Band [had been] forced to lease this land that was forcibly stolen from them is offensive, let alone the impending eviction by the County.
Reversing course and stopping the eviction is the first step to recognizing the Cedarville Band’s humanity. Eviction of native people, from native land, is the tradition of genocide, not redemption.”
There’s only one week left of the Legislative Session and while we’ve taken some big losses this year on our priority bills, we have made significant progress on others. As you know, we've been working hard to advocate for policies that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of Marylanders, from affordable healthcare to criminal justice reform.
With the session coming to a close on April 11, it's crucial that we continue to stay engaged and vocal about our priorities. We'll be closely monitoring the progress of some bills and working to build support among legislators and the public. We are proud of the work we have accomplished so far and remain committed to seeing these bills through to the end. We still need to push a few priority bills across the finish line and you can find quick actions you can take in our legislative updates section.
Your support is critical to our success, and we're grateful for everything you've done to help us push for a more progressive Maryland this session. Check out this week’s Memo for plenty of updates, events, actions to take, and news you can use!Read more
Time to ask what’s getting left undone in the General Assembly: Rent relief and access to care
Maryland’s leaders are looking the other way on the question of shelter affordability. Who benefits? Greedy landlords.
And Maryland's leaders are ignoring over a quarter-million Marylanders whose immigration status makes it hard-to-impossib le for them to qualify for health care.
Find out about these holes in the process -- and more -- in News You Can Use from Progressive Maryland...Read more
As March comes to a close, so does Women's History Month, a time to honor the contributions of women throughout history and celebrate the progress made towards gender equality. This month serves as a reminder of the remarkable achievements of women who have broken barriers and made significant strides in various fields. We’re closing out Women’s History Month by highlighting trans women for transgender visibility week. Transgender Visibility Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges that trans women face and to celebrate their resilience and strength in the face of discrimination and violence. Let us continue to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women throughout the year, and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future for all.
In Maryland, the legislative session is in full swing, with only two weeks left until the General Assembly adjourns. Some of our priority bills didn't make it through crossover but we’ll fight harder for them next year and through other avenues of advocacy. One thing we can do is to focus on our priority bills that have already made it through one chamber and are now being considered by the other chamber. It's also important to keep the lines of communication open with our elected representatives and let them know what issues matter to us.
Read on for more detailed updates on which of our priority bills still have a chance, events, actions to take and news you can use!
The Progressive Maryland Team
You can contrast the Moore-Miller administration's wish list -- excuse us, goals list -- with how much they'll be getting from two legislative chambers that may be making a tough transition from the Hogan era -- difficulty taking "yes" for an answer, jealously guarding their prerogatives and inefficient methods.
And we have more from around the states and the DC scene. Read on for News You Can Use.
Progressive Maryland is deeply concerned by the Maryland General Assembly’s refusal to include Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) in the FY24 budget. This decision will harm over 100,000 Maryland families who are behind on rent. We are demanding our legislators turn this around and continue to fund the ERA program so we can keep Marylanders housed. We are urging our members to share their story about facing eviction to help persuade our elected officials and are asking the press to help keep up the pressure too by covering this urgent issue.
Today is a significant day in the state's legislative calendar! It's Crossover Day in the General Assembly, which means that any bills that haven't passed out of their original chamber by the time lawmakers adjourn this evening, no longer have a chance of becoming state law this session. We've been tracking committee and floor votes closely to see which bills will still have a path forward when voting wraps up. We expect some success on a number of healthcare bills we’re supporting along with some disappointments when it comes to other priority bills including drug reform and renewable energy policies. Read on for updates and actions you can take today to support progressive legislation and build a more just future for our state and communities!
The Progressive Maryland Team
It's Crossover Day -- today -- in the Maryland General Assembly. Just like many Assembly events and practices, it is totally made up to make legislating for the benefit of working people look more complicated than it really is, and to give lobbyists and the legislators that they have a piece of more chances to cripple good bills. It is the way of the world, and keeps corporate power IN power unless everyday folks take a hand. We'll keep trying.
Meanwhile see what hard-working reporters are doing to make sense out of this. It's News You Can Use.
TW: suicide, depression, transphobia, transgender genocide, forced detransitioning, abuse, deportation, kidnapping, coercion and grooming
Transgender people deserve to live a full life. Unfortunately, Eden Knight, a 23-year old Saudi Arabian transgender woman who was trafficked and forced to detransition, will never be able to.
Eden’s friends have published a document telling her story, including her final message where she described the events leading up to her passing.
Eden was living in the US while she was attending school, and came out as transgender while she was living here. She was contacted by a man named Michael Pocalyko and his associate Ellen, who claimed he could “fix” the relationship between herself and her family, who she describes as “strict conservative Muslims”, who disagreed with her transition.
Over time, Michael and Ellen connected her with a Saudi lawyer named Bader, who groomed her to detransition, to hide that she was transgender, and to get her to be, in Eden’s words, “normal”. At some point, Eden realized that she was reliant on Bader for food and shelter, and that since she was still seeking immigration status, that he could easily have her deported.
Bader booked her a flight back to Saudi Arabia, and Eden returned to her family who then revealed that they had hired Michael, Ellen, and Bader to bring her back. She was entrapped, verbally and religiously abused, and searched daily, with her gender-affirming healthcare taken away from her. As a result of this, Eden ended her own life to escape from it. Her family put up a post on social media confirming this, complete with misgendering and misnaming Eden. She didn’t get to be her true self to her family, even in death.
Eden was loved. Eden was full of purpose. Eden was worthy. Eden deserved better than this, to live a full life and to grow old. And yet, none of that saved her from the people around her that harmed her.
Transgender genocide is real. It’s even more real to our most vulnerable communities, including transgender people of color and transgender immigrants like Eden. There have been 465 anti-transgender bills introduced this year alone. These bills primarily target transgender people in areas such as healthcare, nondiscrimination laws, free speech, sports participation, public accommodations, and education. This legislative assault seeks to erase transgender people from society, taking away legal protections, medically necessary care, and breaking up families.
This is why gender-affirming healthcare can be lifesaving for transgender people. Eden is heartbreakingly a representative of the catchphrase, “death before detransition”. For many transgender people, forced detransition is a death sentence. Transgender people deserve respect – not laws, contracted entities, and systemic violence forcing them back into the closet and denying them access to crucial and life-saving medical care.
We remember the transgender people our society has failed, but we will not let their deaths be in vain. May this be the catalyst that sparks your righteous fury, prompting you to mobilize, to resist, and to rally others.
WRITTEN TESTIMONY on HB0329
Public Health-Commission on Universal Healthcare
Madam Chair and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for your work and consideration of a number of important healthcare matters during this current legislative session. At Progressive Maryland we appreciate your efforts to expand healthcare coverage and access, to address the growing crisis of medical debt, and to reign in soaring drug prices.
Many of the problems that everyday Marylanders face when it comes to getting medical treatment, buying prescription drugs, and finding a provider stem from our hard to navigate, confusing and ever changing healthcare system. As you know our system relies heavily on the insurance industry and employer provided insurance. But healthcare costs are skyrocketing for employers and individual policyholders while insurance company profits and CEO compensation are breaking records. This unfortunately has been the case for many years during, coming out of, and well before the global pandemic.
The high cost of premiums, co-pays, and out-of-pocket costs are draining individual and family budgets. The number of insurance company claim denials is mounting every day, putting a growing number of patients and families at great risk. It’s time for a change.
Progressive Maryland, along with our community partners in the End Medical Debt campaign held a speakout on Lawyer’s Mall. Most of the stories that people shared about their struggles with getting healthcare came down to being denied care somewhere in the system(even when having a “good” policy) and/or being unable to afford health insurance. It’s time to look at moving away from our reliance on private insurance. HB 0329: Public Health-Commission on Universal Healthcare gives Maryland a way to explore just how we can do that.
HB 0329 will give us a chance to look at alternatives and options by studying how a single payer system might work and be organized. Hundreds of favorable studies, reports, and reviews,including from government agencies, exist about a single payer model. It’s time to harness that data and information to examine the benefits we could realize and to explore what’s possible. There’s little expense required to engage a Commission and this process. Any time and resources spent on the Commission and its work will be well worth it given the positive outcomes we could see.
Relying on a more efficient single payer model to deliver healthcare to folks makes sense. It means a much greater percentage of the money we spend as a state would go to the actual care and treatment people need, and not to pay for all the bloated costs and inefficiencies in the private insurance sector.
On behalf of Progressive Maryland’s thousands of individual members across the state, our regional chapters and our Healthcare Task Force I urge you to pass HB0329. We believe that healthcare is a fundamental human right. It’s time to make a real commitment to guaranteeing that right and the Commission’s work is a critical way to get started.
Please vote yes for this bill.
Progressive Maryland Lead Healthcare Organizer
Takoma Park, MD