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As we approach the halfway point of the legislative session this Friday, bill hearings are picking up and testimony is needed more than ever. So far, this year’s session has been marked by a flurry of activity, with lawmakers considering a wide range of bills on issues ranging from police reform to education funding. While no bills have been passed yet, we’ll continue to keep you updated on the good and the bad as we expect to see some shifts and movements on bills regarding our legislative priorities. Read on for updates and actions you can take today to support progressive legislation and build a more just future for our state and communities! 

 

In solidarity, 

The Progressive Maryland Team



 

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Here’s what’s in today’s memo:

  • Celebrating Black History Month

  • Legislative updates: upcoming hearings and testimony due dates
  • PM task forces & issue campaigns: healthcare & environmental justice 
  • Local chapter updates: Harford County, Prince George’s County & LSPC
  • State & National news

Celebrating Black History Month:

We’d like to spotlight and remember two very important black leaders: Mama Cax and Lillie May Carroll Jackson. 

 

Mama Cax was a model and activist who made her debut at New York fashion week in 2019. She lost her right leg as a result of cancer and struggled with finding a prosthetic to match her skin tone. Mama Cax embraced her disability and went on to design her prosthetic with beautiful colors and patterns. She was an essential part of the body positivity movement for Black women and women with disabilities. While her life was unfortunately cut far too short due to medical complications in 2019, she carved a path for disabled people and black people in the fashion industry. 

Dr. Lillie May Carroll Jackson was a Baltimorean who was known as the mother of the civil rights movement. She was an educator and she organized the Baltimore branch of the NAACP. She pioneered the tactic of non-violent resistance to racial segregation, which was later used by Martin Luther King Jr. In 1986, she was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.

Furthermore, we’d like to highlight one of our newer staff members, SirJames. SirJames is our Environmental Justice Organizer and currently lives in Baltimore city. He has also lived in Virginia, Rhode Island, and North Carolina! Black History Month is important to him because “it is tantamount to the history of America - without it, this country would not have existed!”.

We will continue to recognize and appreciate the ongoing work of Black leaders and organizers. Please check out our socials to see more special features.

Legislative Updates:

Click here to visit the MGA website and keep track of all active Maryland bills, their action status, top sponsors, and top committees. 

 

We encourage you to have a voice in the process by submitting written testimony and signing up to give in-person or virtual testimony. In the Senate, testimony is due between 8am-3pm the business day before a hearing is scheduled (if scheduled on a Monday, testimony is due on the Friday prior). In the House, testimony is due within the same parameters but TWO business days before the date of the hearing.

 

This week, we are collecting testimony for three very important bills ahead of bill hearing dates: 

  1. De Minimis Quantity (HB927), which makes possession of a controlled dangerous substance a civil offense rather than a misdemeanor. This is important because civil citations, which are minor violations like running a red light for example, don't go on someone's criminal record. When someone has a criminal record, they are often denied jobs and safe housing. With racially targeted policing, this may potentially reduce arrests and allow for Maryland's communities of color to thrive more equitably. Favorable testimony is due Friday 2/24 by 3pm and can be sent to Max by 1pm this Friday. 
  2. Reclaim Renewable Energy Act of 2023 (SB590), which will stop greenwashing dirty energy by removing factory farm gas, burning trash and more from Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. It’s time to stop calling these public health threats “renewable” and exacerbate real renewable energy as solutions to climate change. Favorable testimony is due Monday 2/27 by 3pm and can be sent to SirJames by 1pm on Monday. You can also take action by emailing our legislators to urge them to support this bill with this quick and easy email tool we created.
  3. Fair Wage Act of 2023 (SB555), which will increase the state minimum wage incrementally over time. This is crucial to accelerate the $15 minimum wage, which Progressive Maryland has been advocating for. Favorable testimony is due Wednesday 3/1 by 3pm and can be sent to Larry by 1pm next Wednesday. The hearing for this bill is part of a big day of hearings in the Senate finance committee on March 2nd - not only will they be hearing this bill but also the bill we are supporting to eliminate the tipped minimum wage (SB803), as well as provisions to the Time to Care Act enhancing paid family and medical leave that we helped to pass last year. Stay tuned as we head to Annapolis on the 2nd to cover the happenings of the hearings.

Updates: PM Task Forces & Issue Campaigns 

Environmental Justice Task Force

We’re collecting testimony on the House & Senate bills that would remove trash incineration from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard program: Senate Bill 0590 hearing date is scheduled for Feb.28 and House Bill 0718 hearing is scheduled for March 9th. Please contact SirJames with your testimony!

 

You can also take action by emailing our legislators to urge them to support this bill with this quick and easy email tool we created.

Healthcare For All:

Join our fight against the high cost of healthcare, racial disparities, the need to end medical debt and expand healthcare. With your help we can make progress on these issues this year! Join us for a Healthcare Justice Rally on Monday evening, March 13, in Annapolis! (virtual option, too.) RSVP today! Progressive Maryland will be there with our friends from labor, community and health advocacy groups. Last Wednesday we attended the Access to Care Act Rally and submitted testimony in support of the bill to expand access to the Health Exchange to all Marylanders, no matter their immigration status. We’ll testify again this Wednesday for the legislation, HB 588, before the HGO Committee. We’ll also submit testimony to the Senate Finance Committee in support of the Hospital Patient Refund Act, SB 404, which builds on the 2022 bill requiring hospitals to return payments to patients who were eligible for free care but were wrongfully billed by hospitals. Have questions? Want to get involved? Please contact Patty.

Local Chapter Updates:

Progressive Harford County 

Join Progressive Harford County for the chapter's monthly meeting. The meeting will be tomorrow, Feb. 22 from 7-8 p.m. on Zoom. We'll discuss the latest events and initiatives to get involved with the chapter. Sign up here.

 

Tell your Harford County Council representative to support bill 23-005, the warehouse moratorium. The bill will create a six-month moratorium issuing any approvals or permits for warehousing, processing, distribution or delivery facilities so the county government can study its effects. Sign this petition to add your voice in protecting green spaces in Harford County.

Progressive Prince George's

ATTENTION: Please sign this petition to urge the County Executive, Angela D Alsobrooks, to undertake an open, transparent and community involved process for the recruitment and hiring of the new PGCPS CEO. The County Executive attempted to pass some late-filed legislation taking even more accountability out of the process and positioning herself to be the sole decision maker in the selection of the new PGCPS CEO! Fortunately, a few members of PM were able to attend a Sunday night hearing this past weekend and speak truth to power about their displeasure with this most recent, disconcerting development. You can view the hearing HERE. The bill # is PG-503-23 and HB432. 

 

Our County Council agrees with us and is fighting for amendments that will insert our elected officials on the Board of Education and more community representation and checks and balances on the CE’s power into the process! Please take the time to call your representative on the Prince George's County delegation and tell them the community and the BOE deserve a seat at the table in the selection of the new PGCPS CEO and that you are favorable to the passing of HB432/PG-503 ONLY with the aforementioned amendments. 

 

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: We are fundraising for Jay Howard-Brock, a rock star young mama & PTO President at Bradbury Heights Elementary School in Prince George's. She was invited to present at the National Education Association Leadership Summit in CA which is incredible but she needs help getting there, so PM is working to raise funds for her airfare! Please take this chance to make a donation to help her take advantage of this huge leadership opportunity. We only have this week to make this happen! Please click here to make a donation today

News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngState and National News:

Human needs, violently active (environmental emergency responses) and newly visible (worrying new child poverty evidence -- and solution possibilities) occupy the General Assembly as it gets into the grind-it-out hearings section of its schedule. We have local and national news about human needs from the toxic-bombed railroad town in Ohio to wondering why we can't seem to get traction on restoring the Chesapeake Bay. It is News you can Use for this week. Read on.

 

It’s News You Can Use for this fast-moving time. Don’t miss it -- click 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.

>>Read more on the homepage of progressivemaryland.org

 

 

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...