Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, March 1, 2021

bailout_sig.jpgHappy March and Womxn’s History Month! 

We are now at the halfway point of the legislative session and some crucial bills still need action. See below for policy updates and action items, especially on law enforcement reform and ending medical debt. This and much more in the Memo.

Thank you for being part of this movement. In Solidarity, The PM Team



 

Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, March 1 202

Happy March and Womxn’s History Month! 

We are now at the halfway point of the legislative session and some crucial bills still need action. See below for policy updates and action items, especially on law enforcement reform and ending medical debt. This and much more in the Memo.

Thank you for being part of this movement. 

In Solidarity,

The PM Team

 

Quick Actions:

Statewide Updates:

Police Reform Emergency Action -police_reform_rally_march_4.jpg Join the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability this Thursday, March 4, at 4pm to demand change. We will meet at Annapolis District Court (251 Rowe Blvd. in front of the stadium) and march to Lawyer’s Mall. More info and RSVP here.

Statewide Community Forum on COVID-19 - Please join us Wednesday March 10, from 6:30-8:00 pm. Learn about what’s happening with the vaccine rollout, COVID relief measures, and the growing concern about the long term effects of the coronavirus.

RSVP here.

 

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].

 

End Medical Debt MD Campaign:

The campaign to pass the Medical Debt Protection Act (HB0565/SB0514) is in full swing! Last week, the Senate Finance Committee heard the bill. Now it’s time to urge committee members to issue a favorable report on the legislation without adding any amendments that weaken its terms. If you haven't had a chance to send a letter in support of the bill to the senators on the Finance Committee – it's not too late! Take a moment to visit this link to send a letter and make your voice heard. It's quick, it's easy, and it makes a difference. You can also sign on here to show your support for the End Medical Debt Maryland campaign and receive occasional email updates. Please contact Lindsey Muniak ([email protected]) with any questions or to get more involved!

 

Environmental Justice Campaign:

We will be holding a Leaders Call this Thursday at 6:30pm for anyone interested in engaging with us around policy! We will be strategizing how to move forward the top EJ priority bills that need our help in session. It'll be a lot of fun! We'll go over power mapping to find out who our target legislators are and brainstorm how we can best connect with them to get their support. No experience in policy necessary, just enthusiasm and willingness to learn. RSVP here.

 

Drug Policy Campaign:

Read and share this informative op-ed on the importance and need for Overdose Prevention Sites to save lives, by PM volunteer and writer Janice Lynch Schuster. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

floor_debate_tally.jpgLocal Chapter Updates:

Anne Arundel County and Southern Maryland

Baltimore City

Baltimore County/ Frederick County/ Western Maryland

Progressive Montgomery

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 this email below to share your story about housing in Montgomery County.

Progressive Prince George’s

Lower Shore Progressive Caucus (Affiliate Chapter)

Please hold the date - March 23rd at 6pm - for our Spring Fundraiser! It is a virtual event where we will be highlighting local Progressive candidates running on the Shore in 2021 as well as highlighting some of the legislative priorities our organization has been working on in Annapolis. Email [email protected] for more information.

 

State and National News:

Maryland Governance -- the 2021 Legislative Session

We’re halfway through the Maryland General Assembly (MGA) Legislative Session. 

Last week the MGA  passed an expansion of the EITC program to include Maryland taxpayers who are not documented. Direct payments in 2021 are also part of the deal. This welcome action follows the passage of the RELIEF Act which excluded many immigrants. Although Governor Hogan opposed this important step his spokesperson has said he will not veto the measure.

It’s good to see this supplement to the initial relief package as it will benefit thousands of Maryland workers and families.

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 (LEOBR) -- protections for officers accused of abusive practices, originated here in Maryland -- picked up some damaging amendments in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Commission, as outlined by Maryland Matters

COVID-19 and Healthcare Justice Campaign

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. We have joined our allies and other activists around Maryland to call for equity in the allocation and distribution of the vaccine. We appreciate some of the steps that have been taken by lawmakers but more needs to be done. Please sign the petition to the Governor, House Speaker, and Senate President. 

Throughout this crisis we’ve worked to support and appreciate all  the workers on the frontlines of our economy and public services. There’s a  continued need for PPE and other protections for this universe of folks. It’s important for their well being to get access to vaccine appointments, to receive hazard pay and be included in decisions about safe working conditions. Fortunately there’s a good bill making its way through the legislature that will help ensure these protections: 

The pandemic has exposed the glaring racial inequities in our health system and it’s time to address them. 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 Maryland’s 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. Read more about this program in yesterday’s WAPO opinion piece written by Rep. Anthony Brown.

 

Vaccine News and Updates

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine received emergency authorization from the FDA at the end of last week, making it the third vaccine available to be used to fight the coronavirus. Maryland is set to receive several thousand doses of the JandJ vaccine this week. We will share more about this development in next week’s Memo.

We should see benefits soon from the increase in supply flowing from the federal government. To help optimize this increase the  registration and communication issues that hamper the registration and appointment process in the state must be fixed. We need one central registration system, more sites, more vaccinators and support staff, and  more mobile vaccination units; in short, more capacity. Local health departments, working with non-profit community groups, in particular, could use more state resources. They are the vaccine hubs best positioned  to ensure equitable allocation of the vaccine in impacted communities. 

Because the Hogan Administration’s management of the rollout has been so problematic, local officials have for weeks been raising legitimate concerns and making suggestions on how to improve key aspects of the program. The Administration should take some time to listen to local experts and their experience on the ground. Here’s an op-ed outlining some of these concerns from three former Baltimore city Health Commissioners. In the meantime, as supply and distribution issues get sorted, we urge everyone to stay patient and to keep in mind the folks who are most vulnerable and most in need of getting these shots.

 

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 this month! We appreciate Rep. Raskin and Sarbanes signing on again as co-sponsors. 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]

 

National Action Alerts 

Senate Consideration of the American Rescue Plan:

The Senate resumed its work today and it’s going to be a busy week for Majority Leader Schumer and the Democratic senators as they work to negotiate, debate and (hopefully) win all provisions included the House passed version of the American Rescue Plan/COVID relief package. It looks like the minimum wage provision will no longer be included due to the decision of the Senate Parliamentarian. Efforts by allies to find a work-around the ruling for the time being have been dropped. This is unfortunate and means we will need to come up with new pathways to increase the minimum wage.  

  • Call to Action - Let’s Pass the American Rescue Plan:  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 isbailout_sig.jpg 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!

 

Related Progressive Measures

Wealth Tax Bill:  This week, Sen. Warren (D-MA), Rep. Jayapal (D-WA-07) and Rep. Boyle (D-PA-02) will be introducing the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act. This bill requires the wealthiest 75,000 households in America, or the top 0.1%, to pay their fair share. It would help us narrow widening racial wealth gaps, rebuild the middle class, and invest in an America that works for all of us. The Ultra-Millionaire Tax would bring in nearly $3 trillion in revenue over 10 years – without raising taxes on the rest of the 99.9% of American households. People’s Action supports this legislation. 

 

Events from our allies:

Wednesday, March 3, 3-4:30pm  | Organizing for Racial Justice after the Inauguration - This webinar series centers community power for racial justice, including movement strategy and organizing for policy change. RSVP here

 

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].

February 27, 2021 Assembly bills, communities fight impact of power plants in Prince George's

The impact of a cluster of polluting fossil fuel power plants on children and neighborhoods has sparked bills in this Assembly session in response. A Maryland Matters report and independent research provided to the Progressive Maryland BlogSpace fleshes out this instance in which environmental racism and profit are causing officials to look the other way.

February 25, 2021 At least four Assembly bills aim to advance environmental justice

Efforts to bring environmental justice to impacted communities -- such as Brandywine in Prince George's County, where Black communities have several polluting power plants placed or scheduled in their immediate neighborhood -- are emerging in the Assembly session. That includes significant upgrading of a commission on environmental justice that has lapsed into near-inactivity, lawmakers note. Maryland Matters recounts the state of play.

 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.

>>Read more on the homepage of progressivemaryland.org.