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.
Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, January 25, 2021
Black, Brown, Indigenous and rural communities deserve clean air and water the same way everyone else does. Period. We need to ensure that our Marylanders who are disproportionately impacted by climate change and are bearing the brunt of environmental racism are safe and free from toxins and environmental hazards like landfills and trash incinerators. If you care about bringing justice to our communities while benefiting the planet then please join us on Monday from 5-6pm for an Environmental Justice Task Force meeting - Click here to RSVP. . At the meeting, we will discuss our 2021 legislative priorities for environmental justice and a plan to achieve our goals, as well as go over leadership opportunities within this newly formed task force.
The Legislature is in full swing and the Governor has introduced his budget. Marylanders need swift action from State leaders and lawmakers to deal with all the problems and hardships we are facing due to the pandemic. Here’s our Petition to Governor Hogan, Speaker Jones, and President Ferguson on what we need for COVID Response. Please sign and share widely.
Here’s our full agenda for the session -- the People’s Recovery Agenda for Maryland:
Our allies at the Legislative Coalition note that the number of prefiled bills in the 2021 Session means hearings and potential action are coming fast and furious and the agenda is crowded. Here is their scorecard for the next few weeks; these are the frontline issues and submission of testimony is important to make your voice heard on these issues -- the coalition has how-to info on that as well. Don’t see what you are interested in? Take a deep breath and check out the whole list of hearings.
President Biden and Vice President Harris led a beautiful memorial service to honor all the COVID fallen last Tuesday evening, January 19 in Washington, D.C. Four hundred lights, symbolizing the 400,000 who have died from COVID, were lit along the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial and Lori Marie Key, a nurse from Michigan, sang “Amazing Grace” at the event. Later in the week, the President and Vice President were inaugurated, 3 new Democratic Senators were sworn in, and the President signed 30 important executive orders related to COVID, especially around vaccine production and distribution. It was a good week for our country.
Here in Maryland, the state’s case numbers declined in the last week since hitting a daily high of 3,700 about two weeks ago which is welcome news. Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker tweeted that in MOCO, since the County closed indoor dining, COVID cases associated with restaurant workers are down by 60%. We know that public health restrictions on social and economic activities continue to help reduce community spread. We know that following guidelines like masking, social distancing, and avoiding gatherings will help keep everyone safe and save lives.
Close to 300,000 Marylanders have now been vaccinated which is good news. The bad news is that we are not receiving enough doses. In addition to the shortage, last minute communication about shipments is not allowing enough lead time to best manage distribution week to week. Most locales have systems, plans and personnel in place, now they need more doses.
Despite the slower than expected rollout of vaccines from the federal government, Gov. Hogan went ahead and moved the state into category 1C this week when many jurisdictions have not completed phase 1a, let alone 1b. His action will no doubt create false hope and unrealistic expectations with the public about when they will be able to get their shots. Opening up registrations to another large swath of folks has led to many thousands of pre-registrations that are overwhelming the system and causing frustration across the board. Local public health offices are on the front lines, managing most of the moving parts of vaccine management, and should be consulted on all aspects of the phasing so that it can be managed as effectively as possible. Despite the important role local governments are playing, the Governor is not regularly meeting with County Executives. Many County leaders across the state were shocked when he threatened teachers last week about returning to school buildings before it may be safe to do so. Folks on the ground would like to see Hogan use his power and position to troubleshoot the vaccine supply problems and to explore ways he can support teachers, public employees, and other essential workers. A reassuring message from him about staying patient while we wait for the national vaccine program to pick up the pace would help reduce confusion and unnecessary pressure on local officials.
It’s no wonder Senator President Bill Ferguson wants to see significant improvement on the vaccine front before considering Hogan’s nominee Dennis Schrader as permanent Health Secretary (he was rejected for the vacancy in 2017).
And the Sun reports that a racial disparity in vaccination distribution is showing up, another number that Hogan needs to attend to soonest. “Only about 16% of the first doses of the vaccine administered in Maryland for which race data is available have gone to African Americans, and 4.6% have gone to Latino people. Those groups represent 31% and 11% of the population, respectively,” the Sun article says.
Interms of the state’s record on delivering financial relief, numerous problems have plagued the state’s unemployment system for months, preventing checks from getting to thousands of people in need. Now we’re learning about problems experienced in the small business community: Baltimore's minority businesses share their tales of woe: Black business owners in Baltimore told state officials this week that they've had trouble accessing COVID-19 relief funds.
We hope to see progress this week on all fronts: from Governor Hogan’s actions, to an increase in the number of vaccine doses we’re receiving, to commitments for strong levels of COVID aid and relief.
Our national affiliate People’s Action is zeroing in on moving relief through Congress as quickly as possible, especially in the more difficult environment of the closely divided Senate. The debate about whether or how to blow up the filibuster is heating up and puts pressure on some centrist Dem senators like our WVA neighbor Joe Manchin as Mitch McConnell tries to hold on to as much power as he can. Observers like Ezra Klein of VOX see getting relief to Americans in a way that lets them see who is responsible is what Democrats need to ride out the coming midterm, a task impossible if the filibuster stays in place.
The bad hiccups in vaccine production and delivery have meant that the rich world is gobbling up supply even more greedily than before -- this cannot end well, and nobody is looking like heroes here, especially drugmakers who are refusing to participate in the WHO’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool which many countries and experts like Dr. Fauci support. President Joe Biden has invoked the full version of the Defense Production Act to move production in the US and overseas faster, but it looks clear that vaccine production won’t get ramped up until late March or early April. New CDC director Rochelle Walensky says that the goal of 100 million vaccinations in Biden’s first 100 days is reachable -- at least a million vaccinations in each of the last six days indicate a good trend -- but supply may hinder going beyond that.
OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
Contact our Chapter organizers here:
Montgomery County chapter meeting- January 28th 6:30pm-7:30pm
Save the date for our first Progressive Montgomery chapter meeting of 2021. We will be talking about Progressive Maryland's legislative agenda for 2021, our new statewide Housing task force, and other important issues that affect Montgomery County
Events from our allies
Opportunity for high schoolers: Join Students Against Voter Suppression (SAVS)
SAVS is launching a completely virtual poll working and future HR-1 and HR-4 advocacy network across the United States. It includes students across the country within the high school age range. For general members it’s low-time commitment (less than 2 hours per week, except for occasional optional events.) It’s extremely easy to join. This organization is also a great way to include political experience on your resme :) Join form:
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 [email protected]
On yesterday's holiday (hard-won!) to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we recall his iconic Riverside Church address of 1967, enumerating the injustices at home and globally of which the then-raging Vietnam War was an illustration. These familiar echoes of today remind us what a visionary King was and, 53 years after his death, remains. In the Memo: Details on the Assembly’s first week, including veto overrides; two issue task forces this week -- sign up; our COVID-19 report, state and national, including the Biden-Harris vaccine recovery plan post-Trump; our chapters around the state; allies’ actions, and recent blog posts. Read on; it’s your weekly road map to building power.
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 want them to attend to the emergency we have now? And who want 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.
January 05, 2021 Assembly Session challenge: focus on pandemic learning loss
Repairing the damage to learning brought by the pandemic, a veteran Maryland education official argues, "legislators should be guided by two basic rules. One is to follow the science. The other is to have the resolve to make tough, triage-like policy choices. Research also teaches that tutoring in the early grades will be most effective during regular school hours by paid, well-trained tutors and integrated into a school’s framework of tiered interventions for struggling readers." Given the inevitable shortfall in finances, "legislators must resist intense political pressure to simply spread the learning loss money among many competing relief proposals," and focus on what research shows would be the highest-return policy.
December 11, 2020 How Progressive Maryland is preparing for 2021. You are included.
This past Tuesday evening Progressive Maryland hosted our virtual Member Welcome meeting to build community and learn about what it means to be a member of Progressive Maryland. We were joined by both the longtime and relatively new members who make our organization what it is.
We want to build momentum from this meeting and head into 2021 ready to increase our grassroots power across the state, so this post is to carry that meeting’s messages to those who were unable to participate. Here's how we work together to make change in Maryland.
🎉 Exciting news: The Catalogue for Philanthropy has chosen Progressive Maryland as one of the best nonprofits in the DC region! We were selected from a competitive applicant pool by passing through a rigorous review process conducted by a team of 170+ pro bono reviewers from foundations, corporate giving programs, peer nonprofits, local government agencies, and the philanthropic advisory community. We are so honored to be part of this powerful cohort of local changemakers! 🔥
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