In the Memo this week -- the need for a special session of the General Assembly gains traction; fighting for the right of the mail to go through in an election year, how to ensure your vote in Maryland; events from our allies around Maryland and of course our recent blog posts, curated for you.
Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, August 17, 2020
Call for Special Legislative Session--
The pandemic has taken the lives of more than 160,000 Americans and 3,000 Marylanders. The infection rate continues to rise in our state as does the death toll. Tens of thousands of state residents are out of work, businesses are closing, and schools are dealing with unprecedented challenges. This is a period that calls for all hands on deck--especially when it comes to the role of lawmakers at all levels of government. Unfortunately one critical branch of our government for all intents and purposes has been missing in action. The General Assembly is not in session and has not been in session since mid-March.
That has to change. County councils, city councils and municipal employees and staff are working around the clock in most cases to adopt COVID-19 related policies and to try and understand and meet the health and financial needs of their jurisdictions. Our Congressional Delegation has taken several steps and votes at the Federal level in the last five months, including four significant aid packages, to deal with many of the worst aspects of this pandemic.
On the state level it’s been the Governor who is driving the response to the overlapping crisis(es) and his response has not matched the enormity of the situation. For example, studies show that more than 347,000 Marylanders are at risk of eviction and our Governor has failed to act. We’re facing a potential $300 million revenue loss due to business tax breaks in the federal CARES Act that can only be addressed by decoupling the state from these federal tax provisions. We can’t afford to leave $300 million on the table. Yet, despite the urgency of these issues, our state representatives are sidelined as Marylanders face an increasingly perilous time.
In the past several weeks, State Senators and Delegates have tried to provide constituent services; and many are speaking out about issues like vote-by-mail, the failures of the state unemployment system, and the need for criminal justice reform. But in order to fully deliver on these matters, legislation needs to be enacted, more aid needs to be deployed, and legislative oversight needs to be leveraged. That can only really happen when the legislature is meeting and fully operational.
That’s why Progressive Maryland joined with seventy labor, faith, and community organizations last week to demand that a special session of the Maryland General Assembly be convened as quickly as possible. A wink of opportunity is opened by the Attorney General’s opinion delivered late last week. We need everyone to get involved. If you want to volunteer to help us in this fight click here.
The GOP handshake, or, fistful of dollars
We learned of another reason for the General Assembly to convene when it was reported that Roy McGrath, Governor Hogan’s latest Chief of Staff, received a quarter million-dollar, taxpayer-funded 'severance payment' awarded by the Board of the Maryland Environmental Service when he voluntarily left his job there as Executive Director The matter calls for a serious investigation from the legislative branch as it raises serious questions about the judgment of its Board of Directors and its gubernatorially appointed members," Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard) and Del. Erek L. Barron (D-Prince George's) said in a statement, reported by Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.
General Election Voting 2020
Governor Hogan still has time to do the right thing and set up a vote-by-mail system. Under that approach every registered voter would be mailed an individual ballot to fill out and return.
In the event that Gov. Hogan doesn’t heed the call for a vote-by-mail system here are the options that will be in place for voting in this critical general election:
Vote by absentee ballot. Request a ballot. Text VBM to 77788. Or call (240) 777-8533. Once you receive your ballot, fill it out, follow the instructions for returning it (by mail or to a drop off box.) Note that absentee ballot request forms are supposed to be mailed but if you want to be proactive it’s fine to request one now.
Vote in person during the Early Voting period from October 26-Nov.2. Each county will have some designated sites and will set up safe, physically distanced voting places. Check your County Board of Elections website for locations and hours.
Vote in person on Election Day. Counties will open some polling locations on Tuesday November 3. Check your local Board of Elections website for information.
We highly recommend (unless you need special assistance) requesting an absentee ballot now and voting as soon as you receive the ballot. If you have any questions or problems with any aspect of voting call: 866 Our Vote (866) 687-8683
To register to vote go to the State Board of Elections website and you’ll be directed to your County BofA’s website where you can obtain a voter registration form.
Not sure you’re registered?
Follow the same steps to check whether you’re on the voter registration rolls. More info from the Maryland Legislative Coalition is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/19ctFDp358rUbgzcMr0jgQNm0ScqXZFxd/view
The Mail Must Go Through -- for voting, and for our everyday needs. USPS is among the most popular public services and it's under threat. USPS National Day of Action this Saturday August 22. We need to stop the Trump Administration’s attack on the US Postal Service, its systems, machines, and ability to do its job. It’s especially important to have reliable and fully funded post office services during a national health emergency and a national Presidential election:
How are we doing in Maryland, USPS-wise? Maryland Matters reports via columnist Frank DeFilippo, who takes on Hogan's decisions on the November election and the Postal Service, and attorney David Plymyer, who accuses Maryland's lone Republican congressman, Andrew P. Harris, of attempting to bleed the Postal Service in order to privatize it.
Re-entry -- now more than ever. In this pandemic environment, social and economic re-entry from mass incarceration is even more difficult than usual. Members of the faith-based community are presenting a Virtual Summit on issues of re-entry this Saturday, August 22 from 11 AM -1 PM: register at https://secure.everyaction.com/CCcA-IS6CEezQQ7pxsxQ-w2.
Progressive Maryland’s Montgomery County Chapter, along with our partners from Right Care Alliance and CASA will host a virtual Montgomery County Community Forum on COVID-19 on Thursday August 27th at 7:00 p.m. We’ll hear from health care providers, community leaders and Councilmember Gabe Albornoz. The Forum is a place for folks to gather and share their experiences with COVID, to identify local needs, and to find out what more could be done to help MOCO residents. Check our Facebook page later this week and look for an email, too, with more details. Or contact Josh Raznick by email at [email protected]
Contact Tracers Needed: The state of Maryland is ramping up its contact tracing program and hiring contact tracers.Learn more about these jobs at https://careers.norc.org/en-us/job/495771/contact-tracer-maryland
OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
EVENTS FROM OUR ALLIES STATEWIDE
Monday, Aug 17 | 7:00 PM
Please come continue our discussion on voting, let us know how you are making out with your voting actions (homework & extra credit) and catch up on the current voting process including issues in MD and have Q&A with Guest Speaker: Dr. Gilberto Zelaya, Community Empowerment/Public Information Officer from MC Board of Elections and check out our PPC Report - Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-Income Americans: Changing the Political Landscape.
Wednesday, Aug 19 | 7:00 PM
Join us to refine and finalize bylaws and move closer to formal branch status while we develop a program to tackle the many inequities in Prince George’s County and engage allies to make it happen inside county government and in the community. Follow the link for virtual access.
Friday, Aug 21 | 4:00 PM
Webinar: An Introduction to Cooperative Conversations
Presented by Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy.
Saturday, Aug 22 | 11 AM
In this pandemic environment, social and economic re-entry from mass incarceration is even more difficult than usual. Members of the faith-based community are presenting a Virtual Summit on issues of re-entry this Saturday, August 22 from 11 AM -1 PM: register at https://secure.everyaction.com/CCcA-IS6CEezQQ7pxsxQ-w2.
Sunday, Aug 23 | 7:00 PM
Wednesday, Aug 26 | 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Discuss clean energy policy in Maryland and Joe Biden’s climate plan. with special guest MD Sen. Chris Van Hollen*, Maryland – Speakers include: MD Del. Brooke Lierman, Adam Ortiz, Johanna Neumann, ( 100% Renewable Campaign) Mike Tidwell, CCAN; Jahi Wise (Green Capital); Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, (350.org).
RECENT BLOG POSTS
Reading the Progressive Maryland BlogSpace: our recent blog posts are shown below, but if you want a handy way to keep track – and never miss a blog post – you can sign up to get this Weekly Memo by email. Remember this is your blogspace and your participation is heartily invited. See something going on that you don’t like – or that you do like and hope to see more of? Send us your thoughts; submit to the moderator at [email protected]
In a major victory for organizations demanding solutions from the Maryland General Assembly to address the looming eviction crisis on Friday August 14th, a letter from the Maryland Attorney General lays out a pathway for the General Assembly to reconvene.
In the absence of any leadership from state government, top Assembly leaders and county/city school superintendents work to plan how to safely create school environments -- in-school or remote -- and what they need to make the school systems both safe and effective. Their list of needs is long and the response from the Hogan administration and state schools officials sounds suspiciously like crickets. These two accounts describe a thoughtful encounter Thursday (Aug. 13) between two state Senate leaders and three school superintendents (and readers of the BlogSpace can stream the whole discussion) as well as an opinion piece earlier this week by Sen. Paul Pinsky, who chairs the Senate education panel and was one of the participants. Pinsky lays out the concerns raised by the health emergency and some practices that might make a difference.
Progressive Maryland joined activist groups representing workers, tenants, immigrants, parents, students and others who pledged on Wednesday to ramp up their campaign to bring the Maryland General Assembly back to Annapolis for a special session. This article from Maryland Matters outlines our campaign.
August 12, 2020 We must have a Special Session -- ramping up the campaign
These times demand that our elected representatives take decisive action to aid the people of our state.
However, this is not happening. Hard-pressed Marylanders increasingly call on the General Assembly to reconvene for a special session to address our current crisis. Our executive director, Larry Stafford Jr., weighs the options here and explains why today, Progressive Maryland is joining with 70 labor, faith, and community organizations in the demand for a special session of the Maryland General Assembly.
August 11, 2020 Progressive Maryland launches leadership development program
Progressive Maryland "has launched a program to train and educate potential candidates for office and other political advocates " as we see in this article from Maryland Matters, the insightful statewide political blog. The site's founder/editor, longtime state political observer Josh Kurtz, outlined the plan and the people in an article posted yesterday (Monday, Aug. 10).
August 10, 2020 Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, August 10, 2020
An eviction crisis is looming. Even folks who give housing their full-time attention feel they may not know how bad the coming wave of evictions will be, in Maryland and everywhere that the expiration of the $600 top-off on unemployment insurance tips families from scrambling into desperation. We need an end to evictions and cancellations of rent. What pressure points can we lean on to get action? We have suggestions below. That and lots more in PM's Weekly Memo, your go-to source for progressive action in Maryland.
August 05, 2020 Can Hogan lead in Maryland while dancing to national GOP tune?
Gov. Larry Hogan continues to flounder as a leader in Maryland while decked out in high, hyped ratings in the rest of the country -- fueled by his relentless book tour and his ubiquity on the cable shows.
Meanwhile he's responding to national GOP dog whistles on school openings (for the privileged) and scare tactics on a safe mail-in vote.
REMEMBER – these blog posts are frequently expressions of political opinion from our wide-ranging membership and circle of allies. They are not expressions of opinion by Progressive Maryland. Don’t be surprised if they sometimes vary in their political content. You might even disagree with them – a good reason to contribute a blog of your own. Send it to the moderator, Woody Woodruff, at [email protected]
>>Keeping up with the blogs is easier with the index. The blogs published in the PM BlogSpace from June 2015 through December 2016 are all available with descriptions and links here. You can follow blogs for 2017-18 starting from here
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