Happy Monday and Happy Women's History Month! This month is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women, femmes and non-binary people throughout history and recognize their ongoing struggles for equality. Throughout March, we'll be highlighting women leaders, past and present, who are making a difference across various avenues. Stay tuned for these inspiring stories later in the memo.
Last week was a whirlwind of activism and media coverage. Our healthcare rally and RREA Press Conference in Annapolis garnered significant attention. We were featured on WMAR, WBALTV, and Maryland Matters for our impactful healthcare rally, and WMAR 2 News covered our RREA press conference and rally. Catch up on the coverage to see updates on what we're fighting for during the legislative session.
Looking ahead, we have another opportunity to stand in solidarity for justice. This weekend in Silver Spring, we're hosting a rally for housing justice and it's not too late to sign up and join us in supporting residents at the Enclave.
Read on for updates on our task force and issue campaigns and news you can use!
The Progressive Maryland Team
News You Can Use: as pandemic boost winds down, states hustle to avoid cliff for low-income households
The Maryland General Assembly enters its March sprint to get to sine die in early April. Good bills could fail to make it over the finish line while bad bills breeze through. Keep an eye on that. And support for low-income families, which was frequently the difference during the Covid and post-Covid realignment, is now lapsing. Catastrophe is always just a paycheck away now. See what states and the feds are doing (or not) to fill the gap.Read more
Advocates and workers spoke about the demands around jobs, care, and justice.
Annapolis, Maryland – Yesterday evening, at Lawyer's Mall, a resounding call for health justice reverberated as various healthcare community groups, unions, and healthcare workers united to demand legislative action from Maryland's lawmakers. Organized by Progressive Maryland, Caring Across Maryland, End Medical Debt Maryland, Trans Rights Advocacy Coalition, CASA, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Maryland Healthcare for All and FreeState Justice, the rally of more than 80 in-person participants and 60 virtual attendees drew attention to nine critical health justice demands that encompassed the urgent needs of Marylanders across various healthcare sectors. The livestream of the action may be found on Progressive Maryland’s Facebook page.
Advocates march in picket line around Lawyers Mall. Photo Credit: Camila Reynolds-Dominguez
Brige Dumais (they/them) from End Medical Debt Maryland emphasized the interconnectedness of the healthcare struggles, stating, "Our organizations are standing united today to demand JOBS, CARE, and JUSTICE. 'Health justice' isn't something we win through any one of these fights alone - it's what we win by being in these fights together."
The rally presented nine health justice demands, including fair wages for care workers, healthcare for immigrants, protection of gender-affirming care, safe staffing in healthcare, lower prescription drug costs for all, ending the stigma of HIV as a crime, workers' rights for home care, stopping health insurance company care and claim denials, and ending barriers to financial assistance for hospital care.
Speakers shared personal stories and called for specific legislative action, each naming the bill crucial for addressing their concerns.
Rhonda White (she/her), a Certified Medicine Aide & Geriatric Nursing Assistant & 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East , highlighted the dire staffing crisis in healthcare facilities, calling for the passage of HB462/SB328, The Nursing Home Staffing Crisis Funding Act. "Healthcare workers are stuck in a painful cycle of not having enough workers, so more workers burnout and quit, and the short staffing cycle continues. We are so short-staffed because of low wages!"
Crystal Parker (she/her) from the Progressive Maryland Health Care Task Force highlighted the importance of having real healthcare security, focusing on bills like HB1137 and HB328. "What good is a health insurance policy if the insurance company won't let us use it? What good are financial assistance policies if hospitals have burdensome asset tests to deny income-eligible people?"
Delegate Jamila Woods (Sponsor of HB1137) & Progressive Maryland member, Mike Walsh
As the rally concluded, advocates formed a powerful picket line around Lawyer's Mall chanting "Healthcare is a human right! Fight, fight, fight!"
List of Bills Advocates Called on Legislators to Pass:
HB462/SB328 The Nursing Staffing Crisis Funding Act
HB728/SB705 Access to Care Act
HB691/SB119 Legal Protections - Gender Affirming Treatment
HB1194/SB1020 Hospital Safe Staffing Act
HB340/SB388 Prescription Drug Affordability Expansion
HB485/SB1165 Prohibition on Transfer of Human Immunodeficiency Virus - Repeal
HB39/SB197 Homecare Workers Rights Act
HB1137 Health Insurance - Appeals and Grievances Process - Reporting Requirements and Establishment of Workgroup
HB328 Hospitals - Financial Assistance Policies - Revisions
With just 42 days remaining in the legislative session, we're ramping up our efforts to push forward our progressive priorities. As February draws to a close, we find ourselves with numerous events and meetings shaping our agenda for the final stretch of the month.
This past Saturday, our Returning Citizens Taskforce and Black Workers Center hosted a highly successful hiring fair and expungement clinic last Saturday. You can find more details about the event later in this memo.
Later today, we are gearing up for a crucial healthcare rally in Annapolis, where we will advocate for healthcare justice from our lawmakers. It's not too late to join us – sign up here and stand with us.
And as we bid farewell to Black History Month, don't forget to check out our dedicated section in the memo where this week, we honor the profound contributions to music.
Stay engaged, stay informed, and let's continue building a more just and equitable Maryland together.
Gov. Moore testifies on his own bill (Housing) to an Assembly committee; coming up five weeks to go till sine die (that's when the legislators go home, finished or not). The latest on Maryland, good (grants for behavioral health work; licensing speedups) and bad (wow, who forgot to put the updated tax assessment notices in the mail?). Plus what other states are doing and what we can learn from that, and the circus that is the US House of Representatives continues to entertain right up to the edge of shutdown. Will they slip?Read more
We hope you had a restful and enjoyable long weekend. As we reach the midway point of the legislative session this week, we are bringing you an array of important actions you can take to call on our Maryland General Assembly members. Let's make the most of this halfway mark and work towards creating positive change in our communities.
We are also excited to bring you a jam-packed schedule of events that you can take part in. From community meetings to rallies and other direct action initiatives, there's plenty to look forward to. Whether you're passionate about healthcare, housing, reentry servies, environmental justice, or any other vital issue, there's an event tailored just for you. Your active participation is essential in shaping the future we all aspire to see.
Let’s continue to make a meaningful impact together.
The Progressive Maryland Team
What's new? The oldest of old-- Larry Hogan, fresh from eight years of degrading Maryland's environment, finances and reputation, has announced a run for the Senate. Does he know what he's stepping in? We'll see. Meanwhile, the Assembly churns on and we have details, plus news from the states and the (choke) federal government saddled with the current House of Representatives. All-Star Weekend is definitely over.,Read more
Lawyers Mall Erupts as Marylanders Send a Cease and Desist to The Maryland Chamber of Commerce
Over 150 Marylanders Came Together to Expose The Maryland Chamber of Commerce for Dark Money Lobbying and Call on The Governor to Take Action
Annapolis, Maryland – On Saturday, more than 150 progressive leaders from across Maryland united to challenge the influence of dark money in our legislative process. The march and rally, organized by Progressive Maryland, stopped at the Chamber of Commerce building before concluding at the Governor’s House. The livestream of the action may be found on Progressive Maryland’s Facebook page.
Marylanders demonstrate in Downtown Annapolis
At the heart of the rally was a call to action against the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, identified as a major player utilizing dark money to sway legislative decisions in their favor, ultimately undermining the interests of Marylanders. Over the past decade, they have poured millions of dollars into lobbying against legislation that would force the largest corporations in our state to pay their fair share of taxes, keeping the wealthiest individuals in our state remaining wealthy and skirting consumer protection measures. That’s millions of dollars that could be collected in state taxes and should be going towards state funding for essential services like education, healthcare, housing, and climate action.
Activists hold up sign while marching to the Maryland Chamber of Commerce office
Now we are in a state budget deficit and it’s services like public transportation and school programs that are being cut. Along with union workers and state legislators, such as Delegate Gabriel Acevero, the group publicly called on the Governor to take action around this budget deficit that is hurting working families. “In the richest state in the union per capita, we still have one of the most regressive tax codes where the wealthy and well-connected still don't pay their fair share... If we say that we care about oppressed people across this state, then we've got to make sure that we're organizing to prioritize the Fair Share Act that will tax the wealthy and well-connected the way they're supposed to be taxed so we're funding all these priorities that they say we can't afford” said Acevero
Despite running on a platform of "Leave no one behind" and promising to end childhood poverty, Governor Moore's FY 2025 budget falls short of meeting even the most basic state commitments to essential services. As Larry Stafford, Executive Director of Progressive Maryland, noted, "Marylanders need more than rhetoric; we need a working families budget that reflects our values and priorities."
Numerous residents stepped forward to share their firsthand experiences with both the General Assembly and the Moore Administration’s persistent inaction. They highlighted the dire need for funding true renewable energy as an intervention to address toxic air in South Baltimore, improving housing conditions and affordability, and fully funding the Blueprint plan for education.
In a symbolic gesture, attendees presented a cease and desist letter to Mary D. Kane, CEO and President of the Chamber of Commerce, demanding an end to corporate interference in Maryland's politics.
Marylanders demonstrate in front of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce office while Prince George’s County Council member, Krystal Oriadha, speaks..
This past Saturday, we hosted our 2024 Power Summit in Annapolis, and what a success it was! With over 150 passionate individuals present, we came together with one common goal: to build power and drive impactful change during this legislative session.
We want to extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who attended, and a special thank you to our elected officials who joined us and shared their insights and support at the summit. We were honored to have Majority Leader Delegate David Moon, Delegate Jamila Woods, Delegate Jazz Lewis, Delegate Gabriel Acevero, and Prince George's County Council Member Krystal Oriadha speak at the event. We're also grateful for the representatives from ally organizations who stood in solidarity with us.
We engaged in a powerful direct action, marching through downtown Annapolis to expose the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's use of dark money lobbying tactics to sway our elected officials. We demanded accountability and transparency, advocating for full funding of the housing, healthcare, climate action, and workplace rights we all deserve. Then, we marched in front of the Governor's mansion to call upon Governor Moore to address the state budget with more urgency.
READ MORE ABOUT OUR WORK BELOW
Gov. Moore's many plans and proposals take two days to offload; how to have an impact on the Assembly session; naming fish tastier and more, including Maryland's state-level plans for putting guardrails around the use (or misuse) of artificial intelligence (or AI, maybe you've heard of it?)Read more