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As we kick off the month of July, there is much to discuss and take action on. It's a momentous time for our state, as the long-awaited implementation of cannabis legalization takes effect in Maryland. 

 

This step forward represents a victory for justice, equity, and a more sensible approach to drug policy. It is a testament to the power of grassroots organizing and the tireless advocacy of activists like you. Still, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the promises of legalization translate into meaningful change, especially for our black and brown communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

 

 

That task and more are in front of us. When we tackle them together, the barriers fall steadily and at the speed of our choosing



 

 

 

As we kick off the month of July, there is much to discuss and take action on. It's a momentous time for our state, as the long-awaited implementation of cannabis legalization takes effect in Maryland. Starting this month, individuals can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis without facing criminal penalties. Additionally, police can no longer use the smell of cannabis as a pretext to stop and search individuals or their vehicles, a crucial step towards ending discriminatory practices.

 

This step forward represents a victory for justice, equity, and a more sensible approach to drug policy. It is a testament to the power of grassroots organizing and the tireless advocacy of activists like you. Still, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the promises of legalization translate into meaningful change, especially for our black and brown communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

 

However, while we celebrate this important milestone, we must also confront the recent rulings from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) that have dealt blows to the progressive movement. The Court's decisions have the potential to undermine the progress we have fought so hard to achieve.

 

But we are not deterred. Last week, our passionate staff and dedicated members attended the People's Action Convention, held in Arlington, VA, and Washington, DC. We proudly participated in multiple direct actions, joining forces with grassroots activists from across the country to confront corporations who perpetuate injustice. We were very active on social media during the people’s action convention posting live updates on our direct action. Check out our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for an in depth recap of our work at the convention!

 

Now is the time to unite, to come together as a community and push back against regressive policies and unjust decisions. Our work is more crucial than ever, and we need your voice, your activism, and your dedication to help us create the progressive change we seek.

 

Read on for a comprehensive review of the People's Action Convention and a thorough analysis of the recent SCOTUS rulings, as well as important updates and news you can use!

 

In Solidarity,

The Progressive Maryland Team

Here’s what’s in today’s memo:

  • PM Updates
  • People’s Action Convention Recap
  • SCOTUS Rulings
  • PM task forces & issue campaigns: Healthcare Task Force
  • State & National news

PM UPDATES:

Maryland People's Leadership Institute (MPLI): Application Deadline Approaching!

Last chance to apply! The Maryland People's Leadership Institute (MPLI) is now accepting applications, but time is running out. Sponsored by Progressive Maryland, MPLI is your opportunity to receive top-notch training as a community leader in political office or campaign management. Shape the future of Maryland politics and gain expertise in economic and social justice, organizing, advocacy, and more. Don't wait any longer - the deadline is just 4 days away on July 7th. Apply now and make a lasting impact in your community. Click here to submit your application!

People’s Action Convention Recap:

On the last day of the convention, we participated in a series of powerful direct actions in Washington, DC, targeting those who profit from our suffering and contribute to crises such as climate disaster, rent hikes, healthcare costs, and overdose deaths. Here's a quick round-up of our activities: 

  • In the early morning, we rallied at the doorstep of John Dugan, the board chair for Citibank, a major funder of dirty fossil fuel energy. Despite Dugan avoiding us, we left lawn signs and a letter demanding accountability for the damage caused by Citibank.
  • We then headed to the headquarters of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) with hundreds of members, sharing stories of poor living conditions and rent increases. Simultaneously, tenant leaders met with NMHC representatives to discuss tenant protections in federally backed multifamily complexes.
  • Taking to the streets, we marched along K Street, known as the hub of corporate lobbyists opposing the people's agenda.
  • We intensified the pressure on John Dugan, staging a protest at his downtown D.C. law offices. With oil barrels featuring Dugan's face and the message "Citi Funds Climate Chaos," we occupied the lobby while others surrounded the building.
  • Our next visit was to American Health Insurance Plans, the lobbying group for for-profit insurance companies. Though they refused to meet with us, our representatives secured a meeting with the organization's leadership to address the pain caused by denial of health insurance claims.
  • Many members went to Capitol Hill to meet with elected officials, advocating for an end to the war on drugs, tenant protections, Medicare for All, and other critical issues.
  • Lastly, we brought our stories of pain and loss from the overdose crisis and the war on drugs to the DEA Headquarters & Museum. With a wall of pictures memorializing those lost to overdose, we emphasized the need to end this attack on our communities.

 

Throughout these actions, we made corporations and their wealthy executives feel the power of our organizing revival. We thank all of our members and supporters who joined us at the convention in standing up for our communities. Watch this video playlist of the Convention!

SCOTUS RULINGS:

The highest court in the land has recently delivered decisions on critical matters such as student loan debt, LGBTQ+ rights, and affirmative action. As advocates for social justice and equality, it is essential for us to be aware of these rulings and their potential impact on our progressive agenda.

 

SCOTUS on Affirmative Action

In a significant decision, the Supreme Court put an end to affirmative action policies in public universities. The Court ruled that the use of race as a factor in admissions processes was unconstitutional, citing a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This ruling marks a significant setback for affirmative action efforts and limits the ability of public universities to consider race in their admissions processes. Click here to read this opinion piece by 2 prominent Civil Rights Attorneys!

 

SCOTUS grants private businesses the ability to discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation

The Supreme Court delivered a setback to LGBTQ rights by siding with a Christian web designer from Colorado who refused to provide services for same-sex weddings. The justices, with a 6-3 split, determined that the web designer, Lorie Smith, has a free speech right under the First Amendment to refuse to endorse messages she disagrees with. Consequently, she cannot be penalized under Colorado's anti discrimination law for refusing to design websites for gay couples. The ruling opens the door for other owners of similar creative businesses to potentially evade punishment under laws in 29 states that protect LGBTQ rights in public accommodations to some extent. Furthermore, the remaining 21 states lack explicit laws protecting LGBTQ rights in public accommodations, except for certain local municipalities. It undermines the progress made in protecting the rights and equality of the LGBTQ community, putting their access to services and equal treatment at risk. This decision highlights the importance of continued advocacy to ensure that the rights of the LGBTQ community are upheld and protected.

 

SCOTUS on Student Loan Debt

The Supreme Court invalidated President Biden's student debt relief plan, which aimed to offer loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 for approximately 40 million borrowers. The Court's decision struck down the proposed plan, preventing its implementation.

Updates: PM Task Forces & Issue Campaigns 

Healthcare Justice Campaign: 

It’s time to energize our campaign for healthcare justice and Care Over Cost! We did that in a huge way last Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Eight hundred people from the People’s Action Network, including many of our Maryland members and leaders, paid a visit to the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Headquarters on Pennsylvania Ave. AHIP is the main trade Association of the private health insurance corporations. Crystal Parker, Baltimore City based PM HCTF leader, emceed at one of the rallies outside the building and Malcolm Bates was part of the demand letter delivery team. Our demands? Stop denying claims! Stop withholding care and treatment! Stop putting our health at risk! Stop making us sick! 

 

Thanks to all the PM members and everyone else in the People’s Action family for helping us show up strong to call out the greed and profiteering by these giant corporations. What’s next? Keeping the momentum going on this campaign! We can win if we get more people involved! Talking with community members and asking them to take action is our core focus at this time. Knocking doors, phone banking, and tabling at events will help us find many new supporters and double our grassroots base. 

 

Our volunteers are the key to this effort! Please send an email  if you want to learn more and we’ll follow up with information  about our outreach and upcoming events.

 

Check out some of  the news coverage of last week’s actions in D.C.  

  • Here are some great photos & videos on Twitter
  • Here is Statnews media coverage
  • Here is a press release about the action

State and National News:

Along with our weekly roundup of News You Can Use about Maryland and its people and politicians, we have posted about People’s Action’s solidarity confab in the DMV last week. In Maryland, this was the beginning of the Cannabis Era and of reaction to the backward-looking Supreme Court rulings on institutional diversity practices ("affirmative action") and the student debt overhang. Check out this and more in News You Can Use. 

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

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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...