Can voting be even more important this week than it was last week? Yep. Check out our how-to on mail-in voting, for which YOU control the timeline as long as you act in good time. Also: the General Assembly needs to get back to work because the ball is being dropped by the governor on so, so many fronts. One of those is on our schools, which are getting underway even as the Governor and state school superintendent muddle the message. Info on evictions and how to contest them. Short answer: make your court date. And still more, in the Weekly Memo.
Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, August 31, 2020
Be sure to make your plan to vote in the General Election. Election Day, Nov. 3, is just nine weeks away. The 2020 election is one of the most consequential elections our country may ever experience. In Maryland, not only will we be casting our votes for President and our U.S. House Representatives, but in many jurisdictions we will also be voting for important City Council, Mayoral, School Board and Judicial candidates. Critical ballot measures around issues like campaign finance reform and taxes are also in play in a number of counties. Be sure to check our social media posts to learn about our endorsed candidates and positions on ballot measures. Reach out to our local organizers to learn how to get involved in these key local election campaigns.
How to Vote:
The League of Women Voters has a guide to how voting will work for this fall’s election.
The state Board of Elections https://elections.maryland.gov/ and your County Board of Elections can answer requests and questions, too.
Vote by absentee ballot
Absentee ballot request forms have started to be mailed so look for them in the mail. Complete the request form now and mail it back immediately to ensure receiving a ballot in September.
Voters may also directly request a ballot application. Text VBM to 77788. .
Once you receive your application for a ballot, fill it out and mail it back in. The sooner you send the sooner you should receive your ballot.
To cast your vote by mail follow the instructions for returning your ballot (by mail or to a drop off box.)
Vote in person during the Early Voting period from October 26-November 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. Every county will open some polling locations on Tuesday November 3. Check your local Board of Elections website for information.
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 Board of Elections 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.
Call for a Special Session of the General Assembly
Progressive Maryland along with dozens of organizations representing health care workers, state workers, community groups, renters, public interest advocates, and faith based social justice groups, is calling on Senate President Bill Feguson and House Speaker Adreinne Jones to bring the General Assembly back to work.The state legislature has got to swing into action now. They have been sidelined too long, leaving too many decisions to the executive branch of government headed by a Governor who has been struggling all summer to communicate clearly and to provide a successful, comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis. 76% of Marylanders support the reconvening of the legislature.The public continues to feel the ongoing pain of this pandemic and wants an all hands on deck approach to address the multitude of problems the state is facing. The General Assembly must get back to work.
Far too much is on the line to wait until next year. What’s at stake?
- Relief and protection for tens of thousands of renters in the state. Tenants should not be facing court action at this time. No one should be vulnerable to eviction and uncertain about their housing security.
- Safeguards like PPE, safe working conditions and other support for all frontline workers and state employees.
- Restoration of the funding, totalling more than $500 million, to Maryland’s HBCUs, which passed to a standing ovation in the GA and was later vetoed by Gov. Hogan. If no legislative action is taken by December this critical, overdue funding is left on the table.
- Health care programs and funding particularly efforts to flatten the curve, ramp up testing, contact tracing and housing support for those who need to quarantine.
- State budget priorities including rescuing the $300 million corporate tax giveaway which goes into effect before the end of the year unless the General Assembly acts.
The General Assembly can and must come back to work to address these and other pressing matters. Call Senate President Bill Feguson and urge him to reconvene. (410) 841-3600
Call House Speaker Adrienne Jones with the same message at (410) 841-3800.
We need everyone to get involved. If you want to volunteer to help us in this fight click here.
Students, teachers, and staff start back to school this week. Teachers and local school officials have worked diligently to prepare a plan for virtual learning as the new school year gets underway. It’s unfortunate that the Governor and State Superintendent Karen Salmon chose to hold a press conference in late August four days before the start of the year to press districts to adopt in-person instruction as quickly as possible. While everyone would like to see teachers and kids back in the classroom, most local school officials across the state think it’s too soon for that scenario. Thoughtful assessment and consideration of multiple student needs is going into the re-opening decisions districts are making as they weigh the safest way to conduct classes and programming during the pandemic. Given the recent failed attempts in the U.S. by some school systems and universities to bring students back to an in-person environment, caution and sound judgement need to be exercised.
The need to keep updating the ways in which the state can support, guide, and troubleshoot these education related issues is yet another reason the General Assembly should be in session.
>>First of the Month -- the state Public Service Commission has extended a moratorium on utility shutoffs -- energy utilities like electricity and gas -- for one more month. Not everybody thinks it’s all they could be doing. Read more here.
But Maryland Matters also reports “Maryland’s District Court is slated to begin hearing new failure-to-pay-rent cases on Monday. Advocates expect a wave of evictions after those overdue rent cases are heard” and advocates for renters are urging them to make their court dates and contest the evictions before they take place. A consulting firm estimates that “some 274,000 households in Maryland — almost 40% of those who rent — have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and could soon face eviction.”
“Marylanders need to show up to court if they’re served an eviction notice, said Amy P. Hennen, of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, adding “We are anticipating a tidal wave of all kinds of cases, but especially eviction cases,” She said that when tenants appear in court it “fully flips [the eviction] on its head.”
Marylanders living in homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t have to worry about eviction until the end of the year: The Federal Housing Finance Agency extended its moratorium on single-family homes with those mortgages on Thursday. Read full story here.
>>Our national affiliate People’s Action is reminding us of today’s Overdose Awareness campaign. As all around the country opioid overdoses have taken a terrible toll; work to end the plague within the plague with this End Overdose Now social media tool kit -- and spread the word!
OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
OUR 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The knives come out, more than a little, as a House of Delegates committee explores the latest Hogan personnel scandal and the long memories of Maryland Matters founder Josh Kurtz and others are tapped. Is this the precursor of a full-bore inquiry into not just misbehavior but wrongdoing, as personnel and big money bounce around pinball-style in Hoganland? The hearing yesterday, Kurtz says, “can only be described as one of the political low points of [Hogan’s] 5-1/2-year tenure.”
Eastern Shore progressive activist Jared Schablein salutes the Maryland PSC move to approve turbine specs and placement for offshore wind development well over the horizon near Ocean City. He also laments the increasing and very expensive lobbying effort to stop the project by Ocean City’s oligarchs and their partners in government (a quarter-million bucks to Bereano over four years?). As we see in the gratuitous notes below Schablein’s opinion article in Maryland Matters, the race between Maryland and Virginia to be slowest in achieving offshore wind reality is still neck and neck.
August 24, 2020 Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, August 24, 2020
As Maryland struggles with the effects of COVID-19 and state officials' responses -- some better than others -- issues of national and state relief packages and promises, flattening the infection curve, education practices as schools open, getting a good census count for the future and making sure our voters make a plan to vote and get theirs counted are on our minds. Find issue analysis and resources in the Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo, along with our events calendar and blog posts.
Activists around Maryland are planning events Saturday (Aug. 22) in support of the embattled US Postal Service and its key role in mail-in voting as the pandemic makes in-person voting risky for some. Find where they are here.
August 19, 2020 Wednesday Wrap -- Postal reversal, Bay decline, other scandals
As the week rolls on it's easy to miss some of the juiciest outrages affecting Maryland -- the USPS slowdown and its aftermath doesn't give Congress DeJoy; bye bye to a Hogan staff chief who cashed in too visibly (Larry is more careful); Hogan's "rain tax" gambit besmirches his stewardship of the Bay, and more. Should we be ashamed of always looking at the downside? Well, maybe -- but we aren't.
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).
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@example.com.
>>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