memo_logo.pngAs we near the end of another month filled with capricious weather, it's important to take stock of what's been happening in Maryland, especially when it comes to the issues that matter most to progressives. From drug policy and health justice to environmental justice and grassroots organizing, there's always a lot to keep up with in our communities at the local and state level. That's why we're excited to share our new legislative session wrap-up, which provides a comprehensive look at the wins, losses, and disappointments of the 2023 session. A full wrap-up of the session is available on our blog and we hope you will take the time to check it out and stay informed! But our work doesn't stop there. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements of new initiatives we’re launching. Please get involved in our efforts and be sure to check out our chapter and taskforce work, upcoming events, and actions you can take later on in the memo.

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As we near the end of another month filled with capricious weather, it's important to take stock of what's been happening in Maryland, especially when it comes to the issues that matter most to progressives. From drug policy and health justice to environmental justice and grassroots organizing, there's always a lot to keep up with in our communities at the local and state level. That's why we're excited to share our new legislative session wrap-up, which provides a comprehensive look at the wins, losses, and disappointments of the 2023 session. A full wrap-up of the session is available on our blog and we hope you will take the time to check it out and stay informed! But our work doesn't stop there. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements of new initiatives we’re launching. Please get involved in our efforts and be sure to check out our chapter and taskforce work, upcoming events, and actions you can take later on in the memo.

 

In Solidarity,

The Progressive Maryland Team

Here’s what’s in today’s memo:

  • MGA 2023 WRAP-UP
  • PM task forces & issue campaigns: EJTF & HCTF 
  • Local chapter updates: Harford County & PG County 
  • State & National news

Breaking Down the Wins and Losses of the 2023 Maryland Legislative Session for Progressive Maryland's Key Issues: Preview

Click here to read the full wrap up

 

Drug policy

The good news: 

➥ unlike Maryland’s previous and largely failed attempt at medical cannabis regulations, the new law (HB556/SB516) will award all 160 licenses in the first round to minority- or women-owned businesses. 

➥  a broad coalition of progressive leaders, led by the Maryland ACLU and including Progressive Maryland, succeeded in passing HB1071, which formally outlaws marijuana odor searches. This law will reduce racial profiling on our streets and make it less likely that Black Marylanders will be excluded from the benefits of marijuana legalization.

 

The bad news:

➥ General Assembly leaders declined to implement serious protections for workers in the cannabis industry. Progressive Maryland joined our partners in the labor movement, particularly UFCW 400, to demand Labor Peace Agreement language in the cannabis bill. But in the end, thanks to the opposition of Committee Chairs C.T. Wilson in the House, and Melony Griffith in the Senate, the language was not included in the final bill. 

➥ under Progressive Maryland’s leadership, a broad coalition of community organizations, advocates, and former legislators joined together to reintroduce the De Minimis Quantity Decriminalization bill (HB927), which would have decriminalized possession of personal use quantities of a broad range of drugs. Despite many meetings with lawmakers, passionate testimony, and a positive hearing in the House, our bill was not put forward for a vote. 

➥it is unfortunate that SB618 did not pass this session. This bill aimed to authorize community-based organizations to establish overdose and infectious disease prevention services programs.


Environmental justice

Democratic leaders commit to continuing to pollute communities in South Baltimore

 

Among our greatest disappointments this session was Democratic leaders’ continued refusal to listen to South Baltimore’s demand to halt trash incineration at the Covanta facility (SB590/HB718). For decades, this smokestack has polluted the air and water of these working class, majority Black communities, leading to elevated rates of cancer and asthma, and some of the worst air quality in the entire state. Despite our efforts, House and Senate leaders, including Senate President Bill Ferguson – whose own district is home to the Covanta facility – refused to move the bill forward. Our work in South Baltimore continues and we are committed to building the power needed to win this fight.

 

Health justice

★ One of the most exciting developments in healthcare policy in the past few years in Maryland has been the creation of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. The PDAB is a regulatory body, the first of its kind in the US, that is empowered to set drug upper payment limits in the state on a range of common drugs, provided that the purchaser is a Maryland state entity, such as a public university, prison, etc. This year, a broad coalition, including Progressive Maryland, successfully got the Board fully funded and extended after previous resistance from the Hogan administration (HB279)

★The Access to Care Act, HB588, which opens the Maryland Health Exchange to immigrants by removing immigration status as a barrier, passed in the House by a vote of 100-34 in March. This measure would enable about 300,000 residents to purchase healthcare policies on the Maryland Health Exchange which was created when the ACA went into effect. Unfortunately, the Senate President refused to bring the bill up for a vote.This is the second year in a row that the Access to Care legislation didn’t advance despite repeated pledges from leadership to take bold action to ensure no Marylander is left behind. The fight will continue

★The End Medical Debt Campaign Maryland (we’re a core member group) was created to address the burden that medical debt is placing on thousands of  families around the state. The HB333 bill solidifies and kicks off the process to reimburse low-income patients robbed by hospitals who wrongfully charged people eligible for free care. 

 

Other key bills and issues this session

 

Democratic leaders ignore housing affordability crisis

One of the General Assembly’s most successful Covid-era interventions was the Emergency Rental Assistance program, which provided direct support to thousands of families facing eviction due to job loss, medical emergency, or other unforeseen crises. Despite the program’s proven success, Assembly leaders and the Governor have all chosen to walk away, at first defunding the program entirely, and then adding only a paltry $2 million after rapid response advocacy from Progressive Maryland and many of our allies. This funding will not be nearly enough to provide desperately needed support to the more than 100,000 Maryland households behind on rent. 

 

Right to Reproductive Freedom

The passing of the Right to Reproductive Freedom Act (SB798) was a significant step forward for recommitting to reproductive rights in our state following the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. This bill ensures that all individuals have the right to reproductive healthcare such as birth control and abortion services. As a proposed constitutional amendment, Marylanders will vote on this bill in the 2024 election and the passing of this bill will guarantee it remains incontestable.

Updates: PM Task Forces & Issue Campaigns 

Healthcare Justice Campaign 

Thank you!!! to our awesome leaders and supporters; and to our amazing allies for all the outreach, organizing, lobbying, action planning, and communications work that everyone did to help us make considerable progress in Annapolis this year. After we catch our breath we plan to launch our healthcare justice community organizing drive! To learn more about it  and to get involved please contact Patty. And stay tuned for news about our plans to join the powerful Care Over Cost campaign that People’s Action has launched in a number of states. It’s a campaign that calls out the high cost of insurance and demands that something be done about  the growing problem of insurance companies turning down claims and requests for treatments.

Returning Citizens Task Force

RCTF Co-Chair Alfrieda Hylton introduced the Foundation she has stated: John R. Lewis Reenty Reform Services – at our April 18th meeting (with 10 people in attendance). The Foundation has conducted two classes for at-risk youth on the subject of everyday leadership, i.e. everyone has the ability to be a leader within the community in which they live. The first cohort are youth, ages 10 – 15, several of whom have parents or other loved ones incarcerated. This is a pilot program, the intent is to do these programs quarterly and for some of them to be directly for returning citizens.

 

Other upcoming events were discussed as well, including the Samuel P. Massie Community Day in Forestville on May 20th. The RCTF will have a table there where we will hand out literature on housing in order to promote our work in the community.

 

We continue to reach out to other organizations to build a stronger community. And we will seek to have a meeting of FACE – faith-based organizations working in the community to support people after release from prison – on an upcoming Monday. 

 

The next meeting of the RCTF will feature a talk by Dr. Felix Martinez-Sanchez, an adjunct professor at Howard who has been active in Riverdale and other Latino neighborhoods in Prince George’s.  The meeting will be held on May 2 at 6:30 pm. Here is the Zoom link. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Kurt.

Environmental Justice Task Force

If you're a resident of  Baltimore city, you will not want to miss this important  Department of Public Works final public hearing concerning the city's 10 Year Solid Waste Plan. Our Environmental Justice Organizer, SirJames as well as a few Environmental Justice Task Force members, will be in attendance at this hearing. This hearing will have significant ramifications on the trajectory of the city's solid waste program, we URGE you to register to attend the event in person and/or virtually and add your voice to the discussion table. 

 

Moreover, SirJames was recently interviewed about his sentiments on the Reclaim Renewable Energy Act (SB590/HB718) not passing in the  MGA House or Senate chambers by Journalist Dorothy Hood with the Capital News Service: "Moore Signs Clean Air Bills; Environmentalists Cheered by General Assembly Action."

Local Chapter Updates:

Progressive Harford County 

Progressive Harford County had quite the busy weekend! We want to thank everybody who came by our table at the Harford County Earth Day Festival on Saturday. We also want to thank everyone who attended the Harford County Democratic Mixer on Sunday. Both events were well attended and we especially enjoyed connecting with other progressives in the county.

 

Next up, Progressive Harford will table at Havre de Grace First Fridays this summer. Sign up for a tabling shift. 

 

Don't forget to sign up for Progressive Harford's next chapter meeting on May, 15 at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

Progressive Prince George's

Our April 22nd AROS Virtual Community forum was a success! Thanks to everyone that came out and participated in a robust community conversation.

 

A special thanks to Ms. Janna Parker, CEO of PG Changemakers, and Board of Education, District 2, representative Jonathan Briggs for showing up and showing out! You’re engagement brought a wealth of lived and professional experience to the conversation. Solidarity!

 

If you want to know more and find ways to get involved, give Dev, the Prince George’s County Organizer, a call at 804-528-7756. 

 

AROS CALLS TO ACTION

 

The county Executive has finally planned an in person community forum for this Wednesday night, April 26th from 6-8 p.m. at Charles Flowers High School in Springdale. Several folks signed up to testify at the forum and we are encouraging more of our members to do the same. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP TO TESTIFY

 

OR


If you cannot make the Wednesday night in-person forum, please take 3 minutes to send in written testimony in the record for the CEO search to the County Executive. THIS link provides a passage template that can either be sent as is or edited to read in your own words/replaced with your own words and additional comments as suggested on the landing page. SEND AN EMAIL TO THE CEO

 

Read our blog for more details and information!

State and National News:

Governor Moore is ceremoniously signing some of his topline bills and the Assembly is taking a deep breath and realizing they don't have to wait for a Larry Hogan bombing run to see what vetoes they need to override next session. Some progressive allies are cheering how many of their bills made it. The rent is too damn high everywhere but even higher here, if you were wondering. And just when you think one school board story has quieted down, another one heats up. And more progressive news you can use.

Progressive Maryland BlogSpace:

We value creating space for our members to express their thoughts on any issues related to our campaigns. Have an idea for a blog post? You can submit writing, film, graphic design, etc. to be published on our website to the blog moderator Woody.

>>Read more on the homepage of progressivemaryland.org

 

 

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Progressive Maryland
P.O. Box 6988
Largo, MD 20792

woody woodruff

About

M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...