LSPC Testimonies

TESTIMONY FOR HB0470 -- Commission on Universal Healthcare

TESTIMONY FOR HB0470 -- Commission on Universal Healthcare


Bill Sponsor: Delegate Ruth

Committee: Health and Governmental Operations

Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting: Amber Green

Position: FAVORABLE


I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0470 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus.
The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any
political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the
Lower Eastern Shore.

As a black mother who gave birth to a black son in Wicomico County, it was not my intention to place him in danger of not receiving equitable healthcare and to possibly lose his life because of how his black parents were being treated in one of the largest hospitals in rural Maryland eastern shore. Hours after my son celebrated his 1-year-old birthday, we rushed him to the hospital for a rising fever and breathing concerns. He was sent home not once, not twice, but three times and we were told to continue to give him breathing treatments. It took his pediatrician to call the hospital and demand he stay overnight for observation. My son ended up being hospitalized for 2 weeks and needed to be emergency transferred to Children's Hospital in Washington, DC where he had to have surgery to treat a severe case of complicated pneumonia.

In Wicomico County, the black infant mortality rate is two times greater than of white infant mortality rate. Black mothers do not have the same opportunity to protect and nurture their children due to the lack of choice based on income. To receive affordable healthcare services such as birth control, annual checkups and to receive those services and not be treated any differently than anyone else, I have to personally drive 40 minutes outside of my city and county of residence. I have to stress that I am a black mother living on the rural eastern shore, an area that is coming to grips with its racial history but still has large disparities when it comes to race and healthcare; we must do better as a people and as a state.

HB 0470 is a commonsense bill that will help address these issues and find a way to ensure every person of color on the Eastern Shore has the health insurance they need and the care they deserve. For that reason, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus urges legislators to stand with rural black
mothers by supporting this bill and giving it a FAVORABLE report in committee

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0470 -- Commission on Universal Healthcare

    TESTIMONY FOR HB0470 -- Commission on Universal Healthcare


    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Ruth

    Committee: Health and Governmental Operations

    Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting: Amber Green

    Position: FAVORABLE


    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0470 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus.
    The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any
    political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the
    Lower Eastern Shore.

    As a black mother who gave birth to a black son in Wicomico County, it was not my intention to place him in danger of not receiving equitable healthcare and to possibly lose his life because of how his black parents were being treated in one of the largest hospitals in rural Maryland eastern shore. Hours after my son celebrated his 1-year-old birthday, we rushed him to the hospital for a rising fever and breathing concerns. He was sent home not once, not twice, but three times and we were told to continue to give him breathing treatments. It took his pediatrician to call the hospital and demand he stay overnight for observation. My son ended up being hospitalized for 2 weeks and needed to be emergency transferred to Children's Hospital in Washington, DC where he had to have surgery to treat a severe case of complicated pneumonia.

    In Wicomico County, the black infant mortality rate is two times greater than of white infant mortality rate. Black mothers do not have the same opportunity to protect and nurture their children due to the lack of choice based on income. To receive affordable healthcare services such as birth control, annual checkups and to receive those services and not be treated any differently than anyone else, I have to personally drive 40 minutes outside of my city and county of residence. I have to stress that I am a black mother living on the rural eastern shore, an area that is coming to grips with its racial history but still has large disparities when it comes to race and healthcare; we must do better as a people and as a state.

    HB 0470 is a commonsense bill that will help address these issues and find a way to ensure every person of color on the Eastern Shore has the health insurance they need and the care they deserve. For that reason, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus urges legislators to stand with rural black
    mothers by supporting this bill and giving it a FAVORABLE report in committee

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0581 / SB0846

    TESTIMONY FOR HB0581 / SB0846: Maryland Essential Workers' Protection Act

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Davis

    Committee: Economic Matters

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein, LSPC Chair  

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0581 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    A large segment of the membership of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus is essential workers.  Our members work in healthcare, retail, food, poultry, and many of the industries most at risk due to Covid-19.  Despite being called “heroes” by many, almost every single one of them has come to us with a horror story about unsafe conditions or subpar pay for their work, keeping everything going during the pandemic. 

    Since March 2020, there have been over 333,000 positive cases, nearly 6,700 deaths, and roughly 25,000 people hospitalized in Maryland.   These stats are made even more concerning to us on the Eastern Shore with the release of the CDC study that found Rural Americans are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because we are typically older than non-rural populations, have higher rates of underlying chronic disease even after adjusting for age, and often have a lower standard of care than Urban areas.  These numbers are more than just numbers, it is drastically affecting our rural way of life and is causing many of our members and their families to face daily levels of extreme stress due to the risk of catching covid and dying from it. 

    To make matters worse, many of our workers are forced to use their personal leave or go unpaid when they are quarantining or mourning a family member's loss. This reality is cruel and entirely preventable. No working person in Maryland from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland and everywhere in between can afford to go without pay for weeks to be in quarantine or mourn family loss. This legislative body must require employers to provide 14 days of paid quarantine leave and three days of paid bereavement leave to help workers cope with their financial and health burdens.

    Another issue that has arisen from this pandemic is that many of our frontline workers are struggling to make it financially. If calling our frontline workers “heroes” is more than just a performative gesture to make ourselves feel better, then we must ensure that employers pay their workers who are risking both their own and their family’s lives fairly during this pandemic.  

    To ensure that frontline workers are paid fairly, the state must mandate hazard pay for workers on the frontlines during this health emergency. Hazard pay of $3/hour will compensate workers for the harsh conditions they are working in and will help them take care of their families during the financial crisis we find ourselves in.  In addition to regular pay, this hazard paid should also be given for shifts worked during the State of Emergency.

    Finally, the state should allow employees to enroll in insurance through Maryland’s Health Benefits Exchange to ensure they get the health care they need. Doing this will help workers and their families and slow the spread of the coronavirus by keeping workers healthy and on the job.

    The Maryland Essential Workers Protection Act is a common-sense bill that would not only help our workers survive the finance and health crisis we face now but also help our state better prepare for the next crisis.  For that reason, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus urges legislators to stand with workers by supporting this bill and giving it a FAVORABLE report in committee.

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0638

    HB638 Public Safety - Untraceable and Undetectable Firearms

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Lesley Lopez

    Committee: Judiciary

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Dr. Nicole Hollywood, LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB638 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    State and federal gun laws traditionally apply to fully assembled firearms and the part of the gun that includes the firing mechanism, also known as the receiver. These laws typically do not apply to “unfinished” frames or receivers, also known as “80% receivers”. These nearly completed firearms are known as ghost guns. A ghost gun is, simply put, a self-assembled firearm made from either 3D printed components or building blocks easily acquired from the World Wide Web or from individuals in the form of DIY gun kits. These building blocks are readily available and unregulated and are not produced by a federally licensed manufacturer or importer.

    The mounting threat of ghost guns is the most eminent gun safety problem in the United States. Unregulated, not serialized, and often undetectable by a magnetometer, ghost guns present an easy means for prohibited purchasers to evade gun laws and access firearms.

    The threat of ghost guns is rising rapidly. By early 2020, reports indicated that more than 40% of guns involved in criminal activity that were recovered by the ATF were ghost guns and those number are only increasing. For example, in Baltimore, the number of ghost guns retrieved by police tripled from 2019 to 2020. 

    When guns are recovered from a crime scene the serial number is used to engage in tracing. During this process a firearm is traced through the chain of custody to the point of its first retail sale. According to the National Tracing Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (2019) 450,000 trace requests were processed in 2019 and more than seven million traces have been conducted since 1988. Ghost guns however, are untraceable and because they are untraceable they are now the firearms of choice for organized gangs.

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus recognizes the dangers posed by ghost guns. HB638 would alter the definition of a regulated firearm to include a certain unfinished frame or receiver, authorize a person to continue to possess these firearms after January 2022 provided they are marked with a unique serial number, prohibit a person from acquiring new ghost guns after January 2022, and establish penalties for violation.

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0151

    TESTIMONY FOR HB 151

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Acevero

    Committee: Judiciary

    Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting: Sam Harvey

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB 151 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive Movement.

    Caucus members consistently support legislation that speaks to the belief that a civil society cannot exist unless all its members are equally governed and protected by a system of laws. The task of refining these laws, toward a more perfect justice system, must never be set aside.

    In some areas, Maryland may be admired by other states, in others... perhaps it better serves as a cautionary tale. Home to one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, in Baltimore, Maryland as a result has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation. A border state that only narrowly approved abolition, Maryland continues to languish near the bottom quarter on equality in jailing (non-Hispanic whites compared to other groups).

    No system of justice will bring back Bethlehem Steel. However, it could well be argued that the hammer stroke fell harder on many of Baltimore's communities because residents there had only just begun to climb the rungs of the economic ladder. For many, those rungs have only continued to rust.

    A sense of injustice – of inequity – pervades, a sense that a larger system charges ahead along its own path, heedless of damage it does to the blameless members of society trampled underfoot. That law enforcement officers have their own Bill of Rights, ostentatiously separate from the enshrined rights afforded to ordinary citizens, immediately chafes. It's quite possible its very existence roughly tears away at bandages over wounds that, in many communities, have never healed.

    Meritorious in its conception, a Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights (LEOBoR), in many of its parts fairly safeguards the rights of law enforcement officers under investigation of wrongdoing. However, the very existence of an LEOBoR can't help but feed into the sense of inequity, when it appears to convey extra considerations – considerations not afforded to the average citizen.

    Maryland law enforcement has come some way toward recognizing this grievance, modifying the LEOBoR in recent years – for instance, by expanding the statute of limitations on police brutality from 90 days to 366 days. However, current law may be deemed so deferential that interrogation protocol calls nothing so much to mind as an old home week. That the officer goes into interrogation having been introduced to everyone, having been given some background, some work history… that the interrogation will be conducted, whenever possible, at a reasonable hour, “preferably when the law enforcement officer is on duty” – nothing in this is definitively inappropriate, and yet everything in it strikes a sour note. It aggrieves, and in doing so the LEOBoR inadvertently undermines law enforcement’s core mission.

    No dichotomous relationship will attain – all the charm of the chivalrous guard, all the honor of the selfless sheepdog notwithstanding – if it is to be done successfully, public safety must be done by especially, emphatically, normal members of the public. Surely the LEOBoR was created with the intention of giving law enforcement professionals a reasonable sense of security, recognizing that the work they do will not always win them popularity contests. Unfortunately, no amount of tweaking the LEOBoR will dispel the perception that it establishes a system that treats law enforcement officers differently – or worse, that it grants a certain superiority. Only a repeal of the LEOBoR can address this – and only thereby can the community’s trust be revived, and public safety most fully realized.

    Therefore, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

  • TESTIMONY FOR SBOO48 / HB0231

    SB46 Crimes - Mitigation - Race, Color, National Origin, Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Clarence Lam

    Committee: Judiciary

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Dr. Nicole Hollywood, LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB46 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    Research shows that one out of five lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or pansexual individuals living in the United States will experience a hate crime in their lifetime. The rate is even higher for transgender individuals where one in four will be a victim of hate. Further, the FBI reports that anti-LGBTQ bias attacks have been steadily on the rise in recent years.

    The LGBTQ+ panic defense is a legal strategy where a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is blamed for causing a state of violent temporary insanity that resulted in a plaintiff committing an assault or murder. In these instances, a judge and jury are asked to consider the LGBTQ+ “panic” to be a mitigating factor that lessens the severity and culpability of a violent criminal act. 

    Despite all the progress that has occurred in Maryland to drive equality forward, the LGBTQ+ panic defense remains a valid legal strategy. Meanwhile, 11 states and the District of Columbia have recognized that the LGBTQ+ panic defense is outdated, insensitive, and unconscionable and formally banned its practice through the passage of legislation. It is time for Maryland to follow suit and show reverence for the lives of all residents.

    SB46 would end the panic defense as a strategy to mitigate violent crimes during criminal proceedings and extend that definition to include race, color, and national origin. It would send a powerful message to all Marylanders that homophobia, transphobia, racism, and xenophobia are inexcusable and have no home in the Free State.

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0414 - Climate Solutions Now Act

    TESTIMONY FOR SB0414

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Pinsky

    Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Sam Harvey

    Position: FAVORABLE

     

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of  SB 414 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive Movement.

    Caucus members consistently support legislation that describes the courageousness of taking critically necessary action – including action that will require common sacrifice – in defiance of inertia and paralysis. The Climate Solutions Now Act is the kind of courageous, optimistic, sweeping policy that can encircle and address the monumental issue of climate change. 

    We have a moral responsibility to our children, grandchildren, and future generations to address climate change. We must, at last, begin to provide responsible stewardship of the planet they will inherit. At a political impasse these past decades, evidence gathered in the scientific community has long since reached critical mass. An overwhelming majority of us can now accept that human activity is driving climate change. And while it does require courage at the beginning of a change, it has more and more become a matter of clear-eyed reason. Without question we all want to safeguard human civilization, preserve its wonders, and encourage its growth toward a more perfect and just society. There are extremely likely outcomes associated with doing nothing about climate change – that course of inaction can never lead to the realization of these objectives.

    It's a matter of showing leadership when we consider a piece of legislation like the Climate Solutions Now Act here in Maryland. Every state has its splendors, but here perhaps more so than in other places our fortunes are tied to the natural world - the sea, the rivers, the Chesapeake Bay. Much of our local culture is defined by that attachment to the tidewater, and our local economies are dependent on it. For those reasons it's appropriate that we should take a lead role here – and then there's the fact that we're more exposed than most to sea level rise.

    We've left it until late in the game, and so now we must act with some real ambition. The Climate Solutions Now Act seeks to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent (of 2006 levels) by 2030, and achieve net zero emissions by 2045. This was recommended by the community of climate scientists, as a way to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The seas will continue to rise for centuries to come, but by making a start now we can literally start to turn that tide.

    This bill sets forth a broad, visionary approach to achieving this goal, through building green government buildings and public schools, supporting community solar, transitioning government fleets to alternative fuels, and planting five million trees (especially in under-served areas). And the Climate Solutions Now Act does it while considering how it will affect everyone caught up in the change. This is the hallmark of thoughtful, comprehensive, legislation.

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus strongly supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0066

    Department of Housing and Community Development – Office of Digital Inclusion – Established (Digital Connectivity Act of 2021)

    Bill Sponsor: Senators Elfreth, Beidle, Eckardt, Griffith, Guzzone, Hester, Kelley, Patterson, Rosapepe, West, and Zucker 

    Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

    Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting: Christina Hulslander

    Position: FAVORABLE

     

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB66 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore.

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and its members strongly recommend the approval of this bill to develop the Office of Digital Inclusion. It is necessary to focus resources, assess penetration, and create equitable access of broadband internet in Maryland, specifically in rural areas where it is lacking. Online resources have penetrated all aspects of modern living and provide economic, educational, cultural, healthcare, and entertainment opportunities that elevate quality of life. Broadband will be a boon to our rural communities – no one in this country should have to miss out on the advancement that accompanies Information Age technology.  On the contrary, folks in rural areas are most deserving of opportunities to continue to thrive where they are located, rather than abandon those areas simply to remain in a modernizing world.  Economic development for rural areas of Maryland requires reliable broadband service.  

    Increasingly broadband offers access to technology that can optimize agricultural practices, pinpoint-targeting resource allocation. This can not only make an operation more environmentally sustainable, it maximizes yields and profits. 

    Digital technologies advance rapidly. Estimates are that 90% of our current data use come from technologies that did not exist 2 years ago. Smart appliances and digital tools connect to the internet for energy efficiency, enhanced security and safety, and to monitor health variables.  No Maryland citizen should be deprived of opportunities that come with access to digital technologies. 

    For these reasons, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE result in committee.


    TESTIMONY FOR HB0355

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0355

    Election Law - Registered Voter List Security and Electronic Signature Requirements for Petitions

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Sheila Ruth

    Committee: Ways and Means  

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein, LSPC Chair    

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0355 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    Ensuring that all Marylanders can easily participate in our Democratic Process is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members. HB0355 is a common-sense bill that achieves this crucial goal in two major ways.   

    The first way is by better securing vital information crucial to running our elections. The bill accomplishes this by requiring the State Board of Elections adopt regulations specifying requirements for the secure storage and use of voter data for copies of the registered voters list. 

    The second way is by modernizing the State Board of Elections and their process. The bill accomplishes this by requiring the State Board to adopt regulations specifying procedures for the collection of electronic signatures on petitions.  By allowing the collection of electronic signatures for petitions we can ensure our State Board of Election and our Democratic Process is keeping with the times as well as make it easier for voters to be informed and involved in our elections.  

    To put it simply allowing voters the ability to sign petitions electronically makes our system more accessible, more Democratic, and in step with the world we live in today based around technology. It is for these reasons the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

  • Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act

    Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Eric Luedtke

    Committee: Ways and Means  

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein, LSPC Chair    

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0156 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    Ensuring the right to vote is protected for all is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members. If the insurrections against our government in D.C just a few short weeks ago have taught us anything it is we need to do everything in our power to protect our Democracy that is under attack. 

    HB0156 does that by protecting and making it easier to vote for voting blocs that historically have faced barriers in terms of voting in two major ways. The first way is by ensuring that precinct boundaries and polling places are decided with the needs of these groups in mind.  This is achieved in this bill by requiring the local board of elections to contact and obtain input from large residential institutional communities including institutions of higher education, retirement communities, senior communities, and military installations when establishing precinct boundaries and designating the location of polling places. This will ensure that these communities have polling places and avenues to participate in our system that are accessible to them. 

    The second way is by requiring the State Board of Elections to maintain a page on its website that includes certain information about and links regarding voter registration and voting by certain students/other groups.  This information will be vital to ensure that these communities have the information they need to be involved and have their voices heard.    

    It is for these reasons the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0050

    Landlord and Tenant - Residential Leases - Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2021)

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Steward

    Committee: Environment and Transportation 

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein, LSPC Chair    

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0050 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    Protecting the rights of tenants and ensuring they don’t face abuse or get taken advantage of is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members. HB0050 is a common-sense bill that achieves this crucial goal.

    The bill creates transparency between landlords and tenants on utilities by requiring a landlord to make a certain disclosure to prospective tenants if the landlord uses a ratio utility billing system. The bill also has a provision requiring landlords to provide tenants with information to document a bill for certain utilities. These requirements will make utilities more transparent and create conditions in which it is harder to take advantage of tenants.   

    Another provision in this bill requires that a certain lease provision become unenforceable if a landlord fails to make a certain disclosure. Once again this would improve transparency and force landlords to be upfront with their tenants. This too will reduce the chances of tenants being taken advantage and put in bad situations by bad faith actors.    

    Finally this bill would ensure that a tenant organization has the right of free assembly in certain areas within an apartment facility during reasonable hours and on reasonable notice to the landlord. This would enshrine and protect the rights of tenants in law. The ability to organize as tenants is crucial in ensuring their rights are protected and they have the power to improve their conditions and prevent any unfair situation from arising.   

     It is for these reasons the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.