memo_logo.png

Happy Monday and Happy Women's History Month! This month is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women, femmes and non-binary people throughout history and recognize their ongoing struggles for equality. Throughout March, we'll be highlighting women leaders, past and present, who are making a difference across various avenues. Stay tuned for these inspiring stories later in the memo.

 

Last week was a whirlwind of activism and media coverage. Our healthcare rally and RREA Press Conference in Annapolis garnered significant attention. We were featured on WMAR, WBALTV, and Maryland Matters for our impactful healthcare rally, and WMAR 2 News covered our RREA press conference and rally. Catch up on the coverage to see updates on what we're fighting for during the legislative session.

 

Looking ahead, we have another opportunity to stand in solidarity for justice. This weekend in Silver Spring, we're hosting a rally for housing justice and it's not too late to sign up and join us in supporting residents at the Enclave.

 

Read on for updates on our task force and issue campaigns and news you can use!

 

In Solidarity,

The Progressive Maryland Team

.

 

 

Here’s what’s in today’s memo:

    • Legislative Updates

    • Women’s History Month

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

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES:

 

Click here to view the suggested dates of interest provided by the General Assembly. The House and Senate will reconvene tonight at 8pm and will post live updates on their website

 

TRACKER: Click here to keep track of all active Maryland bills, their action status, top sponsors, and top committees. You can also view the bills from the previous legislative session. For more detailed updates on this year’s Legislative Session and to search specific bills click here.

 

Things are picking up in session as we have just a little over a month until Sine Die! Many of our legislative priorities all have hearings this Thursday, March 7. Here’s what they are:

 

Healthcare

 

One crucial bill we're supporting, House Bill 1337, sponsored by Delegate Jamila Woods would make health insurance more transparent and fair by requiring carriers to report additional data on member entitlements and claims processing. It also establishes a workgroup to study and improve the appeals and grievances process for health insurance claims. Check our Healthcare Justice updates later in the memo for more information on the bill hearing.

 

Environmental

 

The Reclaim Renewable Energy Act has been our main priority this session. The bill will have its second hearing in the House this Thursday at 1:00pm. Members of the EJTF will be there at the hearing hoping to make more progress on this bill. Check our Environmental Justice updates later in the memo for more information on the bill hearing.

 

Reentry

 

Several priority bills addressing reentry needs and the criminal justice system will have its second and third hearings this Thursday. These include The Fair Choice in Housing Act (HB964 and SB635), The Maryland Deaths in Custody Oversight Board bill (HB565 and SB036) and The Reentry Services for Women Commission and Pilot Program (HB37). There are also several bills to expand expungement on the agenda as well. Please check our RCTF updates later in the memo for more information on all the bills we’re supporting during session and ways to get involved.

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH: 

Each week, we’ll highlight women leaders in the area, past and present, in different categories to honor their contributions. This week's category: Activism

Odessa M. Shannon, born on July 4, 1928, in Washington, D.C., was a remarkable figure known for her tireless advocacy and groundbreaking achievements. After excelling academically, she began her career as a teacher in Baltimore public schools before transitioning to the federal government, where she rose to become the National Program Director for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Shannon's commitment to equality led her to become the first black woman elected to the Montgomery County School Board in 1982. Throughout her life, she held various leadership positions, including Executive Director of the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission. Shannon's dedication to her community extended beyond her professional roles, as she served on numerous boards and received countless awards for her advocacy, including the Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteerism from President Obama. Her legacy lives on through the Odessa M. Shannon Middle School, named in her honor, and her enduring impact on civil rights and public service in Montgomery County.

Charlotte M. Cooksey, a trailblazing figure in the American legal system, was born in 1947 in Baltimore, Maryland. After earning her B.A. from Tulane University and her J.D. from Loyola University School of Law, she began her legal journey as a VISTA attorney for the Legal Assistance Corporation in New Orleans. Upon moving to Baltimore, she spearheaded initiatives at Maryland Legal Aid, including the establishment of a unit for child representation in need of assistance cases. Transitioning to the court system, Cooksey served as a Master in Chancery before her appointment to the District Court of Maryland in 1983, where she served as an Associate Judge for 25 years. Notably, she presided over Baltimore's Mental Health Court, pioneering innovative approaches to address addiction and mental health within the justice system. Cooksey's dedication to justice extended beyond the bench, as evidenced by her advocacy for humane conditions in correctional facilities. She fearlessly confronted issues of inadequate healthcare and excessive heat in Baltimore's detention centers, earning both praise and criticism

Sharon Brackett (1962- 2021), was a prominent transgender rights advocate and respected engineer. Born in Batavia, New York, she became known for her unwavering dedication to gender rights, founding Gender Rights Maryland in 2011 and actively campaigning for transgender protections iat both the state and county levels. Brackett's impact extended beyond advocacy; she was a successful engineer, serving as president and CEO of the defense contractor PTR Group and later leading Tiresias Technologies.  In 2018, she made history as the first transgender person elected to any political office in Maryland, securing a position on the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee. Throughout her life, Sharon's impact reverberated across diverse spheres, from her involvement in LGBTQ+ rights organizations to her mentorship of high school students and leadership in the Boy Scouts of America. 

PM Task Forces & Issue Campaigns Updates

Healthcare Justice: Hearing on Thursday, March 7th for HB 1337!

 

The Health Justice Rally last Monday was quite powerful and moving! Thanks to everyone who attended in person or online, to all the speakers who shared their stories, and all the folks who created visuals and got the word out. Check some of the coverage here:  Channel 2 News

 

We’ll be back in Annapolis this Thursday to testify for HB1337, our health insurance legislation inspired by the crisis in healthcare claim denials in Maryland and across the country. The Health and Government Operations Committee (HGO) will hold a hearing starting at 1:00 (order of bills being heard is TBD) 

 

HB 1337 will increase transparency in insurance carrier reporting, giving the state more information about the frequency of denials and data to help understand what’s behind the decisions. It also sets up a process for state regulators to examine the appeals and grievance process and make recommendations for changes. The bill is titled “Health Insurance-Appeals and Grievances Process-Reporting Requirements and Establishment of Workgroup Act”   and is sponsored by Del. Jamila Woods, District 26.

 

Voice your support for the bill!  Click here to email the Members of the HGO Committee.

 

We want them to know that having health insurance should mean we get the care we need when and where we need it. 


This is also the perfect time to share your experience or story or that of a family member: Contact Patty

Returning Citizens Task Force & Black Workers Center

 

The legislative session in Annapolis is upon us and there are quite a few bills addressing the criminal justice system and reentry needs.  Some of these face opposition, all of them need our support. The next RCTF meeting is Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 – 7:30 pm, via Zoom.

 

We’ll discuss these bills and how we can best support them.  They include:

 

The Fair Choice in Housing Act (HB964 and SB635) -- the Ban the Box in housing bill – introduced by Delegate Boafo in the House of Delegates -- has been a major initiative of Life After Release.  There was a hearing for the bill last week (PM’s RCTF was amongst the organization’s giving testimony); the hearing for the Senate Bill introduced by Senator West is scheduled for 3/7 at 1:00 pm. 

 

The Maryland Deaths in Custody Oversight Board bill (HB565 and SB036) – is a bill written to address the high rate of deaths of individuals held in Maryland’s prisons, jails and detention centers.  Helping Ourselves to Transform is taking the lead on passage of this legislation (discussed at a previous RCTF meeting).  Currently there is a need to take action in response to the Senate committee rewrite of the legislation that changed the language of the measure to strip it of its content. The House committee hearing is scheduled for 3/7 at 1:00 pm.

 

The Reentry Services for Women Commission and Pilot Program (HB37) -- introduced by Delegate Sandy Bartlett is a priority for the Women's Equity Center and Action Network (WE CAN). 

 

There will be hearings for all three of these bills on Wednesday, March 7.

 

Finally, there are several bills to expand expungement that will be considered all backed by The Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform. 

 

These are:

HB0073 - Expungement - Completion of Sentence

HB0268 - Expungement of Records - Definitions

HB0269 - Disclosure of Expunged Records - Alterations

HB0270 - Expungement - Failure to Obey a Court Order to Report to Confinement

HB0523 - Expungement of Records – Good Cause

HB0550 - Partial Expungement

HB0658 - Automated Expungement, Waiting Periods, and Adverse Actions (Clean Slate Act of 2024)** This bill is a top priority for MAJR!!

HB0867 - Expungement and Shielding - Probation Before Judgment for Driving While Impaired or Under the Influence 

HB0943 - Courts – Expunged Cases and Judicial Actions – Disclosure and Public Access

SB1030 - Expungement of Records – Good Cause.

 

If you have any questions about these or would like to get involved please contact Kurt.

Housing Justice

 

On Saturday, March 9, the Progressive Maryland Enclave Tenant Association in Silver Spring  is organizing a rally at 2 PM to continue holding corporate landlords accountable and fighting for policy that protects renters. Join us!

Environmental Justice Task Force

 

Last week, our Environmental Justice Task Force took action in Annapolis, holding a press conference and rally to urge Senate President Ferguson and Governor Moore to prioritize renewable energy in our state. We emphasized the importance of passing the Reclaim Renewable Energy Act (RREA) to ensure a sustainable future for Maryland.

 

This Thursday, March 7th, marks a crucial moment for the RREA, as it heads into its second hearing at 1 pm in the House. Please contact SirJames if you want to submit testimony for this bill.

News You Can Use: as pandemic boost winds down, states hustle to avoid cliff for low-income households

 

The Maryland General Assembly enters its March sprint to get to sine die in early April. Good bills could fail to make it over the finish line while bad bills breeze through. Keep an eye on that. And support for low-income families, which was frequently the difference during the Covid and post-Covid realignment, is now lapsing. Catastrophe is always just a paycheck away now. See what states and the feds are doing (or not) to fill the gap.

Don't forget to follow us on social media!

Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube

 

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

woody woodruff

About

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...