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 e021xposed those factors. Hogan's "State of the State 2o21" 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.
WEEKENDER: Steps to address 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.
One of them has proved to be the state’s totally inadequate and delapidated system of unemployment compensation -- words that somehow didn’t come up in Gov. Hogan’s “State of the State 2021” speech last week. He gets a failing grade for that – not only for what went wrong but his series of fumbles that failed to fix it. The subject was well aired in news accounts after the speech, including word that a shocking 39,000 unemployed Marylanders are still waiting for their claims to be processed. Here’s the roundup from Maryland Reporter (note some links may have paywalls)
UNEMPLOYMENT REFORM PROPOSED: Democratic leaders of General Assembly Thursday unveiled the framework of a broad legislative package aimed at reforming the state’s unemployment insurance system, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter. The legislation comes as thousands of Marylanders have been waiting for months to be approved for benefits and at a time when call center waits are so extensive that many have simply given up on trying to get a representative on the phone.
- The governor’s office pushed back, saying that what is being proposed is a “Band-Aid” and does not address the complicated system set up by past laws, Brian Witte reports for the AP.
- Maryland has “fallen woefully short of meeting federal guidelines, which requires 87% of applicants to receive their first payment within 14 to 21 days after applying,” Ovetta Wiggins writes for the Post. In the fourth quarter of 2020, Maryland was at 27.9%.
- About 39,000 people are still waiting for their unemployment insurance claim to be processed, Holden Wilen reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.
- Legislators say they’ve been inundated with calls from constituents in “adjudication purgatory” for months, and the people waiting highlight the need for a new vision for the program, Bryan Sears writes for The Daily Record.
Along with the economic collapse brought on by the pandemic, folks in the state’s most impacted communities continue to suffer the inequalities that prevailed across the state for many years, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Unequal criminal justice treatment from the streets to the courts to the jail in an unending pipeline; unequally distributed riches from legalization of substances that used to keep whole communities in terror of both cops and gangbangers, and medical debt for the un- or underinsured: Opportunities for collective action on these issues are on tap here:
Drug Policy Agenda – Pass a Robust Legalization Measure that protects the communities most impacted by the forever War on Drugs
Progressive Maryland along with several coalition partners including Maryland NORML, Maryland Our Revolution, and the Working Families Party are holding a lobby day or rather lobby days next week from the 9th to the 11th. We need to ensure that we have a strong presence at this lobby day if we are to be successful in passing a robust legalization measure. Already we are seeing strong pushback from some powerful interests including those trying to water down the bill so that only the wealthy and well-connected gain access to the legal market. If you can attend please sign up here!
We also need folks to submit testimony to the legislature before the bill hearing. To submit testimony please email it directly to [email protected] by 1pm next Monday 2/8. Remember we are looking for testimony that is about 2 paragraphs in length and that talks about why legalizing cannabis is important to you and how it would directly impact yourself or your community. That said there is no wrong way to do testimony and almost anything will be helpful. You can also view the bill language here.
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions about the lobby day or how to submit testimony.
Still more info: Attend the Our RevolutionMaryland/Maryland NORML 2021 Cannabis Conference Saturday at noon.
More broadly, Progressive Maryland is working to keep advancing police accountability in the General Assembly and the laws of Maryland. Watch the appearance of our Executive Director, Larry Stafford, on Eugene Puryear’s show, “The Freedom Side” on Breakthrough News https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIptd_y3EKY&pbjreload=101&fbclid=IwAR1QmCodFZELY-LJog7McgZqAuq5ZsptpDydZIe4I-LDhjTye-IhG5rzD2M
ND MEDICAL DEBT COALITION – join the Launch TOMORROW
Save the date for a virtual End Medical Debt Maryland campaign launch event!
We'll hear stories from Marylanders who have struggled with medical debt, earn about HB565/SB514: The Medical Debt Protection Act, and take action together to protect Maryland families and provide debt relief. Enjoy the fusion folk sounds of Conjunto Bruja and the virtuosic stylings of Lior Willinger (piano) and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Jacob Shack (viola) as music brings us together around a common vision of a world where patients are no longer penalized for being sick.
RSVP right now at bit.ly/emdlaunch and help kick off this important movement to end medical debt in Maryland! -- Progressive Maryland and the End Medical Debt Maryland Coalition