LSPC Testimonies

  • 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.

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0088

    State and Local Government - Participation in Federal Immigration Enforcement

    Bill Sponsor: Senator William Smith

    Committee: Senate Judicial Proceedings

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Sam Harvey

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of  SB 88 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 directs local resources toward their most beneficial local uses, and SB 88 safeguards those resources from being improperly used for law enforcement that's more appropriately the bailiwick of federal immigration enforcement. Local law enforcement officers may be acting with the best intention of protecting their communities when they blur their traditional role of community policing, toward federal immigration enforcement – for instance, when they inquire about an individual's citizenship or immigration status during a traffic stop, or other arrest. However, best intention aside, they must recognize that if community members don't agree that this is the way they want law enforcement executed, in case of point how they want their law enforcement resources spent, then local law enforcement should and must recognize this fact.

    It may be some will consider SB 88 a complication for law enforcement officers, an impediment to their ability to achieve their objectives. However, there is a ready counterargument – that people who are treated like neighbors are much more likely to behave like neighbors. And, as we emerge from a dark season of unreasonable animus toward the Other, of scapegoating, and of inhuman cruelty at our southern border, it will be most well when everyone takes a giant step toward treating each other as if we were indeed all members of the communities we all live in. First and last, to the best safety of our communities, we must be decent to one another. 

    So, SB 88 insists on law enforcement of maximum effectiveness from a strictly pragmatic standpoint, based on the recognition that local resources are finite. It is not within the language of the bill to answer the strange contradiction that recent arrivals lending their labor to the building up of a place are lopsidedly blamed for every problem there – while they are simultaneously exploited and dehumanized. But the bill does suggest that people should not be harassed simply because the law, when read in a somewhat less than thoughtful way, can justify it. SB 88 derives from a different reading, and emphasizes a different approach to law enforcement – one that will ultimately help local officers more effectively keep their communities healthy and safe.

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0042

    Public Safety - Police Officers - Screening for Violent Behavior, Aggressive Behavior, and Bias

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Young

    Committee: Judicial Proceedings

    Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting: Jared Schablein 

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB0042 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 builds toward a more perfect justice system, and legislation that promotes the highest level of transparency possible, toward the greater ability of the people to review the ways its government operates.

    This legislation addresses many of the issues that have caused the horrific acts of brutality we saw over the summer and for years now primarily towards communities of color.  The issue addressed is training. This legislation ensures that our law enforcement officers are well trained and adapting to changing environments and methods of de-escalation, conflict resolution, and crime reduction.  

    The second issue that is addressed is ensuring only individuals who can fulfill the standard and stresses of the job get hired. This is accomplished by prohibiting a law enforcement agency from employing an individual as a police officer unless the individual has undergone and achieved a satisfactory result on a certain psychological screening By implementing this policy we can ensure the integrity and stability of our law enforcement agencies by preventing the hiring of unqualified and dangerous individuals unsuited for the job.

    The third issue is removing those who violate their oath and commit acts of brutality from their duty so they no longer pose a threat to the community. By requiring that a police officer who has been convicted of killing or causing a debilitating injury against another person be terminated from employment we can assure that there are tangible consequences for committing acts of brutality and prevent individuals from being repeat offenders of these horrendous crimes 

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0178

    TESTIMONY FOR SB 178

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Carter

    Committee: Senate Judicial Proceedings

    Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting: Sam Harvey

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB 178 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 builds toward a more perfect justice system, and legislation that promotes the highest level of transparency possible, toward the greater ability of the people to review the ways its government operates.

    Following the tragic death of Anton Black, on September 15, 2018, his family and friends sought for ways to change the system, to prevent tragedies like the one they and so many others had suffered, from befalling others. They sought a requirement that law enforcement should release information about any investigations into incidents like this, and that law enforcement should release information about any prior complaints against the involved officers. 

    There is some risk that the release of prior complaints could lead to a diminution of the investigated officers' rights to due process, as these incidents could be “tried in the media” once their records are made public. SB 178 effectively safeguards against this risk, granting the custodian the ability to deny inspection if it would “deprive another person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication.” This seems just – the civil rights of one party must not be sacrificed to advance the civil rights of another.

    However, the degree of risk that the civil rights of law enforcement officers may be diminished, must be set against the absolute certainty that all of Anton Black's civil rights were entirely extinguished at age 19, and that is the most important issue and the one we must remain focused on.

    That Anton Black's family and friends had to wait, and wait, for answers – that was cruel and unnecessary (and when those answers finally came, they only confirmed what many had pessimistically suspected).  The system that rehired an officer who'd been fired from a different department, who had a record of being physically abusive to a suspect in custody, is not likely to change unless the people are given these records in the very instants following the occurrence of these tragedies. Without this information, all arguments seem strictly emotional, and therefore carry less weight. It could be argued that the emotional pain of grieving families should provide sufficient pressure to affect changes in policy, but in this world it takes cold, hard facts.

    These family members and friends should have this information immediately – not months and months later. It's already too much to ask that they should bear the responsibility for pressuring the system into changing, but we must face the harsh reality that the system hasn't changed, and it appears unlikely that it ever will, without that kind of public pressure. To apply this pressure in an effort to continually improve our justice system is in the best keeping with our democratic ideals, and this bill provides the necessary tools for that work. I urge you to support SB 178.

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0190

    Firearms – Right to Purchase, Possess, and Carry – Use of Medical Cannabis

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Hough 

    Committee: Judicial Proceedings

    Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein,  Chair of the LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB0190 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. It is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members to legalize Marijuana and protect the rights of those who choose to smoke it.  That is why our organization strongly supports SB0190.  

    Our current law that prohibits users of medical cannabis from their second amendment rights is nothing short of unconstitutional and discriminatory. By prohibiting individuals from purchasing, possessing, and carrying a firearm solely because they are prescribed medical cannabis puts our residents into a horrible dilemma.  A dilemma where they must choose whether or not they will keep their second amendment rights or take medicine prescribed to them by a doctor to treat whatever health issues they might be facing.  When in reality they shouldn’t have to choose at all.  

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0285

    Workgroup on Statewide Vehicle Crash Data Collection and Reporting

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Lewis 

    Committee: Environment and Transportation

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein,  Chair of the LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0285 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. It is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members to improve transportation safety in our state.  HB0285 is a common-sense bill that would help achieve this crucial goal that can save lives.   

    Establishing a workgroup on statewide vehicle crash data collection and reporting is the first major step to creating a safer Maryland in terms of transportation.  This bill sets up the proper outlines for the workgroup to have the ability to effectively examine the processes used to collect and report statewide vehicle crash data for injuries and fatalities.  HB0285 would also allow the state to determine the most effective manner for the State to begin to collect, disaggregate, and report the data by race and ethnicity filling a major need in order to craft effective policy recommendations. 

    It is through these outlines that the workgroup will be able to make effective policy recommendations to address major issues on or before the December 1, 2021 deadline this bill sets.  

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0155

    County Boards and Public and Nonpublic Prekindergarten Programs and Schools - Discrimination - Prohibition

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins

    Committee: Ways and Means 

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Dr. Nicole Hollywood, LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB155 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 recognizes that there are insufficient protections for, and inequities in the treatment of, LGBTQIA+ learners enrolled in Maryland schools. The result of these injustices contributes to a climate that is unsupportive, and even often hostile, to LGBTQIA+ youth. Research conducted on LGBTQIA+ youth in schools has found that an unsupportive educational climate contributes to lower academic performance, lower GPA, increased absences, increased likelihood of school dropout, and less likelihood of attending an institution of higher education.

    HB155 would codify anti-discrimination protections for all students, pre-k through 12 who are enrolled in our public schools and in any other schools receiving public funding.  It also prohibits retaliation against a student or guardian who files a discrimination complaint, establishes a remedy process to resolve discriminatory action, and requires schools and school Boards to develop written policies for students and employees regarding civil rights protections.  Ultimately, this legislation seeks to codify existing MSDE guidance and prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

    HB155 is a major step forward to ensuring the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ youth enrolled in Maryland’s schools.

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