Lots going on as the Maryland General Assembly approaches the halfway point, but especially struggles over better public control of law enforcement and its disparate impact on working families and communities of color, on the streets and in schools. We have statewide news on COVID safety and relief, too, as well as national updates on how to bring relief faster and confirm competent cabinet leaders. This and much more in the Memo.
Thank you for being part of this movement.
Dear [first name or Friend],
Lots going on as the Maryland General Assembly approaches the halfway point, but especially struggles over better public control of law enforcement and its disparate impact on working families and communities of color, on the streets and in schools. This and much more in the Memo.
Thank you for being part of this movement.
The PM Team
- Become an official member of Progressive Maryland
- Step into leadership in one of our statewide task forces
- Join us on Slack to continue the conversation
- Tell our legislators to pass the Climate Solutions Now Act!
- Tell our legislators to pass the MD Essential Workers Protection Act!
Elections 2022 and beyond!
Interested in running for office? Or running a campaign for a progessive candidate? You should check out the Maryland People’s Leadership Institute (MPLI). Learn more at our informational zoom call tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7pm. RSVP here
We see real opportunities now and on the horizon to forge a new progressive political era in this state. The MPLI will help prepare, train, and provide guidance to progressive activists and leaders who want to run for office or would like to lead candidate and voter engagement campaigns in 2022 and in future election cycles. Applicants from all over the state are encouraged and welcome! Application link, including more details about the program are here. The deadline is this Sunday, February 28, so please apply today.
NEW Statewide Textbank Team:
Are you interested in engaging with us on a variety of issues? Are you able to volunteer your time in short amounts on a flexible basis? If so, we encourage you to join our new Statewide Textbank Team! Team members will be trained on the tools we use to participate in a textbank so no experience is necessary. Together, we will mobilize for change. If interested in signing up, please email [email protected].
Environmental Justice Campaign Update:
Many of the environmental justice bills we are prioritizing this legislative session need your help! We are collecting testimony for the MD Constitutional Environmental Human Rights Amendment (HB0082) and the Environmental Justice Zoning Considerations Bill (HB0051). If you are able to write up 2-3 short paragraphs on why you support one or both of these bills, or if you’re interested in joining our Environmental Justice Task Force, please reach out to [email protected].
Drug Policy Campaign:
On Thursday, February 25th, we will be giving updates on the drug policy work we’ve been doing, and sharing new ways to get involved. We are also welcoming Jessie Dunlevi, Rajani Gudlavalleti from the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, and Karen O’Keefe from the Marijuana Policy Project, who are all in favor of marijuana legalization, to talk about the differences between the two different bills currently being discussed: HB 32 and SB 708. We would love it if you could join us and hear from these amazing speakers on our panel of experts about one of the urgent issues facing us right now. RSVP Here
Montgomery County Education Association to Rally in Demand of Safe and Equitable Reopening of Schools
Tuesday, February 23 at 5pm, frontline Montgomery County educators will hold a socially-distanced, collective action outside Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) headquarters in the form of a car picket and rally. Members of Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) are demanding that the MCPS Board of Education consider equitable solutions for the safe reopening of schools. MCPS approved a reopening plan that MCEA found requires “more space, more people, and more resources than are now available,” and has inadequate safety measures for students and educators.
Location: 850 Hungerford Drive Rockville, MD 20850. Supporters asked to arrive 4:30pm; picket line and program begins at 5.
Local Chapter Updates:
Help fight for more inclusive housing in Montgomery County:
Use this form to tell the Montgomery County Council & Montgomery Planning Board to support missing middle housing near transit! Councilmember Will Jawando has introduced Zoning Text Amendment 20-07, which would make it easier to build duplexes, townhomes, and small apartment buildings within one mile of Metro stations.
Allowing more housing types in transit-oriented neighborhoods that currently only allow single-family detached homes helps promote inclusivity, affordability, sustainability, and prosperity. Montgomery County has been studying and discussing missing middle housing for several years, and now it's time to act!
Feel free to customize the email below to share your story about housing in Montgomery County.https://secure.everyaction.com/cPQ-vA9DQka9a1mCxIIt0w2
Guaranteeing healthcare as a human right is critical if we are going to recover from this pandemic. The best way to ensure that right is to pass Medicare for All, the single payer health care bill supported by folks like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal.
Part of the push to pass this legislation is happening right here in our communities. Pressure from local governments is key to push our electors leaders in the Senate and the House. Local resolutions supporting Medicare for All have already been passed by 50 different city and county councils across the country. We hope they can play a key role in pressuring members of congress to vote for and co-sponsor Medicare for All.
Please sign your name to the petition below calling on the Montgomery County Council to pass a resolution supporting Medicare for All. https://secure.everyaction.com/coteAj6iNEaluzGbkf3r2A2
Lower Shore Progressive Caucus (Affiliate Chapter)
“We [LSPC] strongly support HB 470/SB 522 Public Health - Commission on Universal Health Care in the Maryland General Assembly. This bill will establish the Commission on Universal Health Care and require the Commission to develop a plan for the State to establish by January 1, 2024, a universal health care program that covers all Maryland residents.” See more of the LSPC’s stance on this bill here. And LSPC has been testifying up a storm on important progressive bills like the Essential Workers Protection Act, Del. Acevero’s LEOBOR rescission and Del. Lam’s elimination of the “gay panic” defense against violence. See their testimony here.
State and National News:
Maryland Governance -- the 2021 Legislative Session
Here is the latest news on the Assembly Session from our allies at the Maryland Legislative Coalition: “We've had about 2,300 bills introduced and 38 vetoes overridden. Out of all the bills, more have had an Unfavorable Report and been withdrawn than have passed out of committee. One of the things that we have to watch, as always, is amendments to important bills.” Find out more from their start-of-the-week roundup here. , where you will find details on the week’s important hearings; and here’s their longer-term hearing calendar.
Progressive leaders in the Assembly are trying to untie the hands of local governments working to remove police officers from schools. A two-year-old law mandates and funds the School Resource Officers statewide but repeal advocates, including Progressive Maryland, argue that Black and Brown students are disproportionately disciplined by officers. Two Montgomery delegates have proposed two different changes to their fellow House members.
And a bill to rescind most parts of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) -- protections for officers accused of abusive practices, originated here in Maryland -- last Friday picked up some damaging amendments in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Commission, as outlined by Maryland Matters. Progressive groups are mobilizing to defend a clean bill.
We have reached one of the deadliest and most devastating milestones in U.S. history. Half a million people have been killed by the coronavirus in our country. Today at 5:00 p.m. the Washington National Cathedral will toll its Bourden bell 500 times, once for every thousand lives lost. If you are able, please pause what you are doing at 5:00 in order to listen and to offer up a prayer to remember those we have lost. https://cathedral.org/event/covid-19-bell-toll-4/
Our hearts and our deepest condolences go out to everyone in Maryland who has lost a loved one during this pandemic.
We mourn all those who have died and feel more committed than ever to organize for a comprehensive, compassionate, and competent response to the pandemic and all the burdens it has placed on all of us. The Progressive Maryland Agenda for A Full and Equitable Response includes measures that will advance racial equity, support essential workers, provide for safe reopening of schools, and allocate the level of funding that’s needed to meet the needs of ALL Marylanders who have been affected by the pandemic.
--Workers on the frontlines continue to need PPE and other protections like paid leave and hazard pay to stay safe and supported on the job. Here’s a first hand account from the field by a healthcare staffer and 1199 SEIU member:
That perspective has to be a top consideration in the deliberations about the Maryland Essential Workers’ Protection Act. We’re aware of opposition from business lobbyists and potential resistance from some members of the Senate Finance Committee. Stay tuned to this Memo and to our social media about a session of phone and text banking next Wednesday March 3 to send messages of support to Annapolis for this bill.
--Racial equity should be centered in all the major pandemic related public policies being considered in Annapolis, particularly when it comes to health equity. That’s why we support efforts to pass the Health Equity Act which would establish Health Equity Resource Communities to bring more clinics and health care services to underserved communities. HB463 and SB172 would allocate several million dollars, generated by a penny increase in the alcohol tax, to provide grants and incentives for health providers to offer the kinds of care that are missing in those neighborhood clusters with some of our state’s worst health outcomes.
--Comprehensive financial aid is desperately needed for folks everywhere in the state. The Governor and MGA have agreed to a roughly $1 billion package of financial aid to assist families, individuals, small businesses and nonprofits. Unfortunately, the measure left out approximately 86,000 Maryland taxpayers. Why? Because the Governor refused to include immigrants with ITINs (a way to pay taxes if you don’t have a SSN) who are working hard, paying taxes, and trying to deal with the economic and health fallout of COVID-19 just like their neighbors, employers, and customers. Some Prince Georges’ legislators were actually contacted by Administration lobbyists and told that opposing the Governor on this could jeopardize support for minority owned businesses also included in the Relief Act. This kind of disregard for immigrant residents by the Governor immigrants has been seen elsewhere, too, in his treatment of public employees, teachers, and local public health leaders and advocates across the state. His approach is putting people’s health and financial well being at risk. In response to the holes in the Relief Act, Democratic leaders are looking to increase payments from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the upgrade will include taxpaying non-citizens who meet the eligibility requirements of the EITC program.
Vaccine News and Updates
President Biden and Administration officials are assuring the country that the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly because of new agreements with Pfizer and Moderna, will grow enough and be distributed fast enough to inoculate 300 million people by the end of the summer. All of this bodes well for our country’s ability to succeed in fighting the pandemic as spring and summer approach.
Unfortunately, vaccine supplies coming to our state are still not sufficient to meet the number of people the Governor has declared eligible. Registration problems and communication problems continue to hamper everyone’s understanding of the situation from folks trying to register for appointments to public health officials working to create equitable, easy to access vaccination programs based on guidelines. We’re re-posting this analysis from the Maryland Association of Counties who sent a two page letter to the Hogan Administration earlier this month to address a number of vaccine related concerns. The issues outlined are still a concern. The need for more people to help, more sites, more mobile vaccination units, and more public education is great. Local health departments, working with non-profit community groups, are well positioned to ensure that public education efforts are happening and that equitable distribution systems are created. But they need resources and support from the state. A streamlined and user friendly registration system would help ease the strain on everyone from users to providers. In the meantime, we urge everyone to stay patient and mindful of the folks who are most vulnerable and in need of the vaccine. Please remember that public health guidelines like double masking, washing hands, social distancing and staying at home as much as possible, are still critical to reducing the spread of the virus.
Healthcare Justice Campaign Update
In addition to our COVID Response advocacy we are focused on other timely healthcare issues:
End Medical Debt: Annapolis Update:The campaign to pass the Medical Debt Protection Act (HB565/SB514) is in full swing! The House HGO Committee heard the bill last week, and it’s time to urge the committee members to issue a favorable report on the legislation. Do you have 2 minutes? Visit this link to send a letter of support to all 24 legislators. It's easy to do and it makes a difference. The Senate Finance Committee hearing of the bill is scheduled for this Thursday, February 25. We encourage PM members to submit testimony in support of the bill this week. Thanks to all of you who have already done so!
Pass Medicare for All: Legislation that will improve and expand Medicare and would provide a way for all Americans to get health coverage no matter their age, location, employment status, or medical situation, will be introduced again in Congress on March 3! We appreciate Rep. Raskin and Sarbanes signing on again to co-sponsor. We now need to get more of the Maryland Congressional delegation to join them. To help persuade these Members we are urging some of our local County Councils to pass resolutions urging the Delegation to co-sponsor the Jayapal and Sanders’ bills.
Montgomery County residents: Please take a moment now to sign the petition and share widely with your MoCo friends and family. We’re helping a similar effort in Prince George’s County and are exploring ways to support resolution plans in other counties and cities. Local resolution campaigns are going on around the country. Please contact Josh or Patty if you’d like to be part of this effort: [email protected], [email protected].
Support California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Nomination: The Senate Finance Committee will hold its hearing for AG Becerra to lead the Health and Human Services Agency this Wednesday afternoon at 2:30. Progressive Maryland along with our national affiliate, People’s Action, strongly supports Xavier Becerra’s confirmation as HHS Secretary. Senator Ben Cardin serves on the Finance Committee and supports Becerra but his staff notes that they expect some Republican opposition in the Committee, so grassroots support will be needed. Progressive Maryland submitted suggested questions to Sen. Cardin’s staff last week. Here’s an op-ed by former HHS Secretaries Shalala and Sebelius outlining the strong case for moving quickly to confirm Becerra. If you have questions or want to get involved in this effort, please contact Mike Walsh, a PM Healthcare Task Force leader, at [email protected].
National Action Alerts
AND we still have another progressive leader who will need our support as she goes through her confirmation hearing, Rep. Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous cabinet member of the Biden-Harris administration who will hopefully be confirmed to lead the Department of Interior. Because Rep. Haaland’s opposition to fracking, early endorsement of the Green New Deal and participation in protests against an oil pipeline in South Dakota the GOP and Republican Senators are looking to once again derail a true progressive leader/partner/ally. It’s not surprising that right wing Republican groups and leaders like Cruz and Hawley are targeting highly qualified BIPOC nominees like Rep. Haaland, AG Becerra, and Vanita Gupta, selected by the Biden-Harris Administration to serve as Associate Attorney General.
Our People’s Action allies remind us that the Biden-Harris Administration has re-opened HealthCare.Gov through May 15, 2021 for all Americans to have the opportunity to sign-up for health insurance that could alleviate some of the issues many individuals and families are facing due to this global public health pandemic. To learn more about this, please link to the Statement on the 2021 Special Health Insurance Enrollment Period.
More from People’s Action: Let’s Pass the American Rescue Plan: We continue to let our lawmakers know that they MUST provide relief to our members and the individuals and families who are still in dire need of relief as progress is steadily made in containing the coronavirus. People’s Action’s phone2action portal is still active for you to let your state/district Representative and/or Senator know we need REAL COVID RELIEF NOW!
There’s a new resource included that summarizes the priorities we are all fighting for in the mini-resources we’ve shared with member groups
- Highlights of What’s in the American Rescue Plan
- Background on Biden’s American Rescue Plan
- People’s Action 2021 COVID Priorities
- Talking Points: Overall and on Core Topics
Join Us on Thursday, February 25 at 8pm ET for the Let’s Get it Done: the Relief our Communities Need live stream town hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders (Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee) and co-emcees from two of our member groups Jodi Risper of @citizenactionny and Stephanie Maldonado of @LUCHA_AZ. Link here to RSVP and please share with your respective networks, members, and on your social media platforms.
Housing Crisis: Our People’s Action Homes Guarantee campaign/team has been working diligently in making sure our members stay in their homes by fighting to cancel rent and mortgages during this pandemic. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-XX) will re-introduce the Emergency Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act hopefully this week which has been one of the driving pieces of legislation our Housing Justice/Homes Guarantee team has galvanized around. The Biden-Harris administration has announced a coordinated extension and expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs, which is excellent for many. We need support from everyone to get additional House co-sponsorship to join Rep. Omar and amplification on everyone’s social media sites to ensure our members and the individuals and families we advocate for stay in their homes during this pandemic. The response to the housing security crisis has been spotty in the states, despite their access to federal funding for relief, so there might be work for state activist affiliates to do in our own backyards.. Please contact Tara Raghuveer for more details on how you can assist in our efforts.
Events from our allies:
Tuesday, February 23 | 7pm
How COVID is devastating our communities -- Black Health Matters -- Community Q&A at our monthly general meeting with Dr. Rachel Sherman, nurse practitioner. More info at [email protected] Join by tuning in on Facebook: PG Changemakers
Wednesday, February 24 | 8- 9:30am City-County Climate Action Collaboration:
A Climate Action Coffee Forum from Takoma Park Mobilization: how the City of Takoma Park and Montgomery County can collaborate on climate action with a focus on actionable items -- virtual access here.
Thursday, February 25 | 8pm Let’s Get it Done: the Relief our Communities Need
A live stream town hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders (Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee) and co-emcees from two of our member groups, Jodi Risper of @citizenactionny and Stephanie Maldonado of @LUCHA_AZ. Link here to RSVP and please share with your respective networks, members, and on your social media platforms.
A lineup of some awesome Black History Month Events:
Where Water & Justice Meet | Feb. 25th, 6pm CST (8pm EST). Water is complicated. Too much and we face flooding, too little and we face disease, war, and famine. The use of lead water pipes endangers our communities and puts people of color at particular risk. Shutoffs make it hard for people to follow basic hygiene guidelines in the middle of a pandemic. Learn how you can take action to protect healthy drinking water in your community and preserve water in this webinar. We will share quick action items as well as free curriculum available for educating your House of Worship or community. Register here.
Seminar Series: Advancing Ecology and Environmental Data Science for a More Just and Equitable Future by The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) Diversity Committee This seminar is free and open to the public. 'Wealth, Race, and Wildlife: The Impacts of Structural Inequality on Urban Wildlife'. Wednesday, March 3, 11am-12pm PST (2-3pm EST). Join the Zoom webinar: https://ucsb.zoom.us/j/83031551654
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, at [email protected].
Welcome to our Tuesday post-holiday Weekly Memo.
Both chambers of the General Assembly have overridden Gov. Hogan’s vetoes of the bills enabling and funding the rescue of our state education effort (the Kirwan plan). Our schools are fighting the triple crisis (COVID, economy, historically inadequate school funding) and Gov. Hogan’s 2020 veto as the pandemic’s grip tightened was a major setback.
As Black History Month continues, we are continuing to put Black futures at the forefront to affirm, celebrate, and defend all Black lives. See below for information on various events this month to educate yourself and support Black communities.
This and much more in the Memo.
It’s Impeachment Week in the halls of Congress! And it’s Veto Week in Annapolis! Trump faces a reckoning, piloted by lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin of MoCo, and Hogan faces veto overrides in the General Assembly to get moving on rescuing our state education effort in the way the triple crisis (COVID, economy, historically inadequate school funding) demands. This and much more in the Memo.
February 05, 2021 WEEKENDER: Working together to tackle the bad state of the state
What is crushing our communities during the COVID emergency? In many ways, they are the same social factors that keep our vulnerable communities under stress at most times – but the COVID crisis has cruelly exposed those factors. Hogan's "State of the State 2021" chatfest dodged big issues and made current miseries sound like our fault, not his. But there are paths we can take that will get us out.
February 03, 2021 Americans need COVID relief NOW, not footsie with Mitch McConnell
Marylanders across the progressive spectrum know: Corporate politicians and billionaires getting rich during the pandemic may not understand that folks are suffering, but everyday people do. We need a real COVID relief plan, not a watered-down bill to make Mitch McConnell happy.
Congress is shaping the next COVID-19 bill this week, but it’s clear that some politicians and their billionaire backers either don’t understand or don’t care what’s happening across the country. Time for all of us to remind them who they are working for.
Greetings to Progressive Maryland activists and supporters who are new to the Weekly Memo!
Most Mondays, the Memo sums up the news you can use throughout Maryland, focusing on Progressive Maryland’s multi-issue scope growing electoral and civil power in tandem. Events across the state and across the progressive action landscape are right at your hand here, and the thoughts and actions of those fighting for working families are embodied in our blog posts. Get what you need here.
January 25, 2021 Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, January 25, 2021
Your activist calendar for the week, plus info on health, politics and... well, the crossroads where they meet, which is our whole lives right now.
Start with Progressive Maryland's Environmental Task Force meeting in just a few -- 5pm to 6pm TODAY, Monday Jan. 25. See the Memo about that and more.
January 13, 2021 As legislature opens, recovery agenda for state is clearly stated
Does the Maryland General Assembly, opening today, have the resilience to do the people’s business in a worsening pandemic, under unprecedented conditions and rules for both legislators and members of the public -- who wants them to attend to the emergency we have now? And who wants them to be open about what they are accomplishing, or not accomplishing? See what a People's Recovery Agenda must include and how we will fight for it.
>>Keeping up with Progressive Maryland’s 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 2017-19 starting from here and the blogs 2019-2020 here.
Read more on the homepage of progressivemaryland.org.