memo_logo.pngAs we step into the final week of March, we're reminded of the impactful journey we've taken throughout Women's History Month, celebrating the resilience and achievements of women who have shaped our world. Don't forget to check out the last edition in our Women's History Month section later in this memo.

 

But first, let's dive into some crucial legislative updates following last week's crossover day. In a wave of positive news, we're thrilled to announce that House Bill 1337 unanimously passed out of the House. Sponsored by our dear ally Delegate Jamila Woods, this bill pushes for greater transparency and accountability from health insurance carriers by requiring more data on claim appeals and outcomes. 

In the realm of housing, both The Tenant Safety Act and the Just Cause Eviction bill made it through crossover. The former ensures that residential dwelling units are fit for human habitation, while the latter safeguards tenants from landlord retaliation for organizing tenant associations. Turning to reentry initiatives, the Reentry Services for Women Commission and Pilot Program successfully passed out of their original chambers, aiming to create a comprehensive reentry plan for formerly incarcerated women. However, not all our news is uplifting. Despite our efforts, the Fair Choice in Housing Act did not pass out of the senate, which is a setback in our fight against housing discrimination based on criminal records.

In environmental matters, the EMPOWER Act did make it through, marking a significant stride towards energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction -- but the Reclaim Renewable Energy Act failed to pass as legislators never brought the bill to a vote, hindering our efforts to transition away from harmful energy sources like trash incineration.

 

Get more details about these wins and losses in the Memo.

 

In Solidarity,

The Progressive Maryland Team

 

As we step into the final week of March, we're reminded of the impactful journey we've taken throughout Women's History Month, celebrating the resilience and achievements of women who have shaped our world. Don't forget to check out the last edition in our Women's History Month section later in this memo.

 

But first, let's dive into some crucial legislative updates following last week's crossover day. In a wave of positive news, we're thrilled to announce that House Bill 1337 unanimously passed out of the House. Sponsored by our dear ally Delegate Jamila Woods, this bill pushes for greater transparency and accountability from health insurance carriers by requiring more data on claim appeals and outcomes.

 

In the realm of housing, both The Tenant Safety Act and the Just Cause Eviction bill made it through crossover. The former ensures that residential dwelling units are fit for human habitation, while the latter safeguards tenants from landlord retaliation for organizing tenant associations.

 

Turning to reentry initiatives, the Reentry Services for Women Commission and Pilot Program successfully passed out of their original chambers, aiming to create a comprehensive reentry plan for formerly incarcerated women. 

 

However, not all our news is uplifting. Despite our efforts, the Fair Choice in Housing Act did not pass out of the senate, which is a setback in our fight against housing discrimination based on criminal records.

 

In environmental matters, the EMPOWER Act did make it through, marking a significant stride towards energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction. Conversely, the Reclaim Renewable Energy Act failed to pass as legislators never brought the bill to a vote, hindering our efforts to transition away from harmful energy sources like trash incineration. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition and attended our rallies and press conferences on this issue. We will continue to fight for this legislation in future sessions.

 

As we navigate both victories and setbacks, we remain resolute in our mission. Together, we'll continue pushing these bills through the next legislative hurdles, ensuring they reach the governor's desk for enactment.

 

Read on for important updates, ways to get involved, and news you can use.

 

In Solidarity,

The Progressive Maryland Team

Here’s what’s in today’s memo:

    • Women’s History Month

    • PM Task Forces & Issue Campaigns Updates
    • Local Chapter Updates
    • State & National News

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH: 

Each week, we've highlighted women leaders in the area, past and present, in different categories to honor their contributions. This week's category: Fine Arts

Simone Brangier Boas (1895-1981) was a prominent sculptor known for her work, "Mother and Child," which received accolades in Baltimore and was exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art in 1933. As a founding member of the Sculptors Guild, she showcased her sculptures at prestigious venues like the Brooklyn Museum and the 1939 World’s Fair American Art show. Boas was also recognized locally, delivering lectures on sculpture at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and teaching art lessons at her studio, "the Little Studio," located at 2616 St. Paul Street. She nurtured Baltimore artists and played a pivotal role in the city's art community.

Florence Riefle Bahr (1909-1998) was a prolific artist renowned for capturing significant historical moments in Maryland and national politics. Despite her family's musical background, she pursued a successful career as a visual artist after graduating with honors from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 1931. Bahr's artworks received numerous awards and were exhibited at esteemed venues like the Baltimore Museum of Art and the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors in New York. She was a passionate advocate for civil rights, women's rights, peace, and prisoner welfare, actively participating in protests against the Vietnam War and supporting various social causes. Bahr's commitment to lifelong learning was evident when she earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from MICA in 1967. Her legacy lives on through her preserved artworks, recognized as a state treasure by the Maryland State Archives, and her diverse contributions as a Renaissance woman, encompassing art, advocacy, and education.

Jada Pinkett Smith was born on September 18, 1971 in Baltimore, Maryland. Raised by her mother and grandmother, she attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where she honed her skills in acting, dance, and music. She emerged as a prominent figure in Hollywood in the 1990s. Her breakout role in "Set It Off" showcased her talent and set the stage for a successful career. Known for portraying empowered female characters, Pinkett Smith has challenged stereotypes and advocated for gender equality throughout her acting journey. As a producer, director, and entrepreneur, she co-founded Overbrook Entertainment and has contributed to diverse storytelling. As a vocal advocate for women's rights and empowerment, Pinkett Smith has used her platform to address issues such as gender inequality, domestic violence, and mental health stigma.In recognition of her contributions to the arts and her advocacy work, Pinkett Smith has received accolades such as the NAACP Image Award and the Women's Choice Award. 

PM Task Forces & Issue Campaigns Updates

Healthcare Justice:

Tomorrow: Tuesday, March 26th 

 

Hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on HB 1337, our health insurance reform bill sponsored by Delegate Woods, D-26. As part of the national Care Over Cost campaign we’re pushing state legislatures and Congress to address the alarming rise in care and claim denials being issued by health insurers. The legislation, by requiring more timely data and reporting from the industry about claim appeals and outcomes, will lay the groundwork for  more accountability and transparency from health insurance carriers. We pay too much for healthcare policies not to have them cover our care when and where we need it. Help us get a win tomorrow!

At the powerful Healthcare Justice Rally in February community members talked about the need to decriminalize people living with HIV. The bill related to that issue, HB485, has passed in the House! The Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee will hold a hearing on the Senate version, SB 1165, tomorrow afternoon. Progressive Maryland stands with the broad based coalition of groups who supported HB485 and who will be in Annapolis tomorrow testifying for SB 1165. It’s time for our state to remove the stigma and the threat of targeted criminalization of people living with HIV. 

 

To find out more about our healthcare issues and organizing work contact Patty

Returning Citizens Task Force 

 

RCTF’s meeting on March 19 featured a presentation by Jason Williams, Executive Director of Forged Pathways and member of Steamfitters Local 602, on the importance of skilled trades and crafts as a pathway for building a future, that is open to men and women after release from prison. He noted that prior to the Civil War many of the buildings in DC were built by slave labor but that after the war African Americans were forced out of the workforce and the trades became overwhelming white. Over the past decade or so, the unions themselves have recognized this and are making a genuine effort to bring more black workers into apprenticeship programs where they can find jobs and have the pay, benefits and security a union provides. This context framed his program, and much of the discussion at the meeting centered around its development and how to expand outreach to those who most need to find work.

 

This meeting was a follow-up the RCTF/Black Worker Center Hiring Fair on February 24 and is meant to serve as part of the continuing goal of helping people after release find jobs they can hold that will be a liveable wage, a job that offers pathways for the future.

 

Similar themes came up in the module held on March 21 as part of Progressive Maryland’s regrant program for direct survice providers working with individuals after release from jail or prison.  Michael Williams, Director, Returning Citizens Affair Division, Prince George’s Executive Office, discussed the range of programs and services available to people – the challenge again being to find ways to connect those who need support with existing opportunities. The subsequent discussion was a genuine exchange of ideas and possibilities.

 

Finally, despite a great deal of collaborative effort by a coalition that included RCTF, the Fair Chance in Housing Act (which would have eased restrictions on people with criminal records from finding housing) failed to “crossover” from Maryland’s House of Delegates to the Senate. Coalition partners held a discussion about the initiative and there is a determination to organize around this issue next session.

Environmental Justice Task Force:

This past Saturday, Progressive Maryland, One Pennsylvania, and Reclaim Philadelphia gathered on a cold and wet day at the Montgomery County Education Association building in Rockville, MD, for a powerful all-day training on the fundamentals of organizing: Self-Interest, Power, and One-on-Ones.

 

Lev Hirsthhorn, Political Director for Progressive Maryland, commenced the training with a personal story on what brought him to the movement space. Enthusiastically, he led an impactful training on power, which increased levels of vulnerability in the room as the training progressed. Drawing from his rich experience, he shared prudent insights with trainees on behaviors they were displaying that created barriers to building the power they desired. These insights fueled discussions on issues of classism, racism, and post-slavery conditions in black and brown communities across America.

 

Next, Sergio Cea, Political Director with Reclaim Philadelphia, led a thought-provoking training on self-interest, with SirJames as the lead evaluator for his training section. He highlighted how consequential it was for volunteer leaders to be clear on their self-interest and that of others, in sustaining durable power for the present and future.

 

Nydea Graves , a dynamic black organizer with 15 years of experience in political advocacy, led a forceful training on the importance of having 1:1s. She shared a personal story about running for a city council seat in Coatesville, PA, and winning. Nydea emphasized the importance of asking personal questions about one’s life in a 1:1, contrasting it with discussing campaign issues. In a packed room, she stood tall and shared the raw truth about how black people did not need political experts or public policy wonks to liberate themselves from oppression. She pointed to the fact that enslaved blacks and abolitionists, united with their own imagination, liberated themselves from 400 years of chattel slavery.

 

With a fine-tooth comb, she tapped into the hearts of many trainees in the room, effectively agitating them on behaviors that precluded them from showing up and building the power they desired.

 

Throughout the week, SirJames, members of EJTF, and environmental justice allies will continue activating constituents in South Baltimore to call into Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones' offices in the home stretch to get the Reclaim Renewable Energy Act of 2024 resurrected and scheduled for a vote before the legislative session adjourns on Monday, April 8th.

 

If you have an interest in helping the EJTF get the RREA scheduled for a vote before the 2024 legislative session ends, reach out to SirJames here.

 

Acknowledgments and Gratitude: I’d like to shout out Lev Hirthshhorn, Political Director for Progressive Maryland, for leading a powerful and impactful training on Power; Sergio Rea, Political Director for Reclaim Philadelphia, for leading a thought-provoking training on Self-Interest; Nydea Graves, Political Organizer with One Pennsylvania, for leading an imaginative and moving training on 1:1s; EJTF leaders Shenae Thomas and Zack Buster for their bravery in deeply engaging the trainers on the fundamental organizing principles.

Local Chapter Updates: 

South Prince George’s County 

 

The people of Oxon Hill and surrounding South County decided that we have had enough dealing with greedy corporations skyrocketing our bills and disinvesting from our schools, and committed to building power. We are having a power mapping meeting to decide the next steps for our campaign and map out the power players that could make it happen. This meeting is next Saturday, April 6. RSVP here. Questions? Email Anton.

Assembly session heads for close with converging scuffles over taxes

 

Taxes, taxes... two locomotives are a-bound to bump as the Maryland House is putting together a tax package and the Senate (no doubt considering that this is an election year and wondering "wh at are they thinking?") is digging its heels in from the Senate Prez on down. And in the halls of Congress (officially empty for the next two weeks) a tax bill that would keep some child care subsidies alive is languishing. Nothing new there. Around the country, in state legislatures and administrations, some serious problems about housing are getting bemoaned and sometimes addressed. Landlords beware. But hey, the government is funded and there won't be another shutdown scare until, um, October, Bad timing, or what?

 

It's all News You Can Use, the good, the bad and the unseemly, predigested for your browsing pleasure.

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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...