LSPC Testimonies

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0001

    Historically Black Colleges and Universities - Funding

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Adrienne Jones 

    Committee: Appropriations 

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Dr. Nicole Hollywood, LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB1 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 the significance that HBCU’s play in Maryland, and in our country. Founded during a time of hostility and forced segregation, for over 100 years Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been unique American institutions predicated on providing educational opportunities to students many of whom originate from historically underserved communities. While they account for only 3% of public and not-for-profit private institutions receiving federal student aid, they enroll 10% of African American college students nationwide, produce 17% of the bachelor’s degrees earned by African Americans, 24% of the degrees earned by African Americans in science, technology, engineering and math, and are the top producers of African American Ph.Ds. Serving as critical access points to post-secondary education for many Black and first-generation students, the preponderance of research has found HBCUs to provide deeply supportive educational environments that are unparalleled elsewhere with Black graduates of HBCUs more likely than Black graduates of majority serving institutions to be thriving. 

    More than a decade ago, four Maryland HBCU’s, including one on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, joined together in a lawsuit to remedy longstanding racial disparities and funding inequities. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake ruled that Maryland had maintained a dual and segregated education system and had grossly underfunded HBCUs for decades.

    HB1 will send a strong message to the people of Maryland that the State values its Historically Black College’s and Universities and is committed to ensuring their future by establishing a new unit to assist in evaluating proposals for new programs and substantial modifications of existing programs, creating an HBCU reserve fund, and dedicating $577,000,000 in the State budget in fiscal years 2023 through 2032 towards the settlement.


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

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB 71

    TESTIMONY FOR SB 71

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Sydnor

    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 71 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 aspires to deliver perfect justice, as elusive a pursuit as that may seem. I write to you in the hope that you’ll support SB 71 this session.

    Men and women in law enforcement are subjected to extreme stress in the line of duty, which has a profound impact on them, psychologically and physiologically. This is widely recognized – indeed, law enforcement training especially takes it into account. The ability to continue to perform their duties while experiencing a cascade of instinctual physical responses – elevated heart rate, increased respiration, surging adrenaline – is impressive. 


    However, while law enforcement training hardens officers, to make them capable of performing under these extremes, they are not superhuman. These conditions have an impact on their own health, both physical and mental. And, while concerned for their well-being, I also have grave concerns regarding their ability not only to successfully perform their duties at 100 percent under these conditions, but even their ability to 100 percent accurately report what happened, after the heat of the moment.

    It’s not a justice to anyone, neither the law enforcement officers nor the citizens they have interacted with, to ask those officers to recall what just happened, as the adrenaline washes away and the sweat dries on their skin. Neither party may be positioned to answer accurately, never mind objectively.

    This is the great benefit of the body-worn camera, now a tiny and inexpensive tech. Safe to say, we all want to progress toward a more perfect administration of justice. The body cam is a great tool for capturing from an objective viewpoint everything that went right, but also everything that went wrong. We can take those lessons, double down on the good – and make improvements where improvements appear necessary.

    The idea that anyone, no matter how extensively vetted, trained, and oath-taken they may be – that their testimony should receive preferential treatment, is problematic on its face. We with serious reservation allow it, in the name of social order, but it creates a very imperfect dynamic.

    Law enforcement officers enjoy the aegis of rebuttable presumption (the presumption that their account is true unless someone comes forward to contest it and prove otherwise). However, to in the strongest terms encourage law enforcement toward the better way now available to us, SB 71 would create a special case in which citizens, rather than law enforcement officers, are granted a rebuttable presumption themselves. 

    If officers can’t show some very good reason why they haven’t availed themselves of the body cam tech, now the civilian parties involved gain the rebuttable presumption that officers’ accounts (as they perceived them) of the unrecorded events should and will be inadmissible. 

    I believe this places the greatest emphasis on the diligent and rigorous use of the body cam, and this seems entirely appropriate to me. I encourage you to support SB 71.

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0074

    Income Tax - Credit for Energy Efficiency Upgrades - Passive Houses

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Brooks

    Committee: Ways and Means

    Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting: Michaela Moses

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0074 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 recognize the dangers posed by climate change and the particular vulnerability of our state to its disastrous effects. HB0074 promotes climate change mitigation and incentivizes Marylanders to reduce their negative impact on the environment with energy-efficient upgrades to their homes. Adding insulation, replacing windows, weather stripping, and other updates mentioned by this bill can significantly increase a building’s energy efficiency, thus decreasing energy consumption and reliance on unclean energy sources.

    In addition to reducing energy consumption, energy efficiency can also reduce costs. Using less energy per household also means paying less and easing the fiscal burden felt by working class households who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy. In fact, some passive houses or energy-efficient buildings can achieve net zero or even net positive emissions, meaning the building’s presence can actually create an environmental benefit. Owners of net zero or net positive homes pay far less for energy than other homeowners and are also protected from rising energy costs.

    Passing HB0074 allows Maryland to renew their commitment to energy efficiency and build upon existing environmental programs by incentivizing homeowners to update their homes. With the looming threat of climate change, the state of Maryland must remain on the forefront of innovation and equitable climate policy that prioritizes mitigation and efficiency. The adoption of passive house principles and other energy efficiency solutions recommended in HB0074 means a cleaner, safer state for all. 

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0391

    Solid Waste Management – Prohibition on Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Hartman 

    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 HB0391 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 protect the environment and support legislation that would protect our pristine environment for generations to come. HB0391 is a bi-partisan common-sense bill that would better protect the environment from unnecessary pollution and trash.   

    Balloons, on average, take six months to 4 years to fully decompose.   Once released into the atmosphere, they can wreak havoc on the environment for long periods. Once the balloon falls back into the environment, its waste poses a risk for wildlife in two significant ways. The first way is being ingested by wild animals attracted to the color, ribbons, and tassels. Eating the balloon is often a death sentence for the animal.  The second way it poses a risk to wildlife is the balloon waste forming the perfect trap for animals to become entangled.  Once entangled, the animal is often trapped until it dies or continues to live with extreme discomfort and limited mobility.

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0701 Maryland Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End of Life Option Act

    TESTIMONY FOR SB0701

                                                 Maryland Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End of Life Option Act 

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Waldstreicher

    Committee: Judicial Proceedings

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:   Marie Velong 

    Position: FAVORABLE

    Honorable Committee Members: 

    On behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus, I am writing today in support of the Richard E Israel and Roger "Pip" Moyer Maryland End of Life Option Act to authorize medical aid in dying in our state. I would strongly encourage the committee to vote for this compassionate option that would allow a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live, the choice to receive a prescription for self-ingested medication enabling a peaceful, pain-free death. 

    In my 72 years of life, I have helped many of my pets to achieve a pain-free death because of the pain they were currently in. When I had to watch my husband, mother and other people I cared about die in so much pain, I could not understand why we can show so much compassion to our animals and not the people we love. Even convicts on death row get more consideration. We should at least have the option for a better death. People choose when and how they will give birth, why can't they choose when and how they themselves can leave this earth? 

    By supporting the Maryland End of Life Option Act, I hope my home state is the next to join eight states and the District of Columbia in authorizing medical aid in dying. Thank you for representing me, The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and others in this state. I truly hope you will vote  Favorable on this bill that is so vitally important to me and our organization.

  • Updates from the legislative committee

    Recap of legislative committee activities:

    We started out the season with a two-meeting review of a substantial list of legislative items the LSPC and the Maryland Legislative Coalition had supported in the last session and narrowed in on six items from that list that the committee would make top priorities. 

    One item, an idea for a bill that would help young people with disabilities transition into the workforce, never made it onto paper this session. In retrospect, we could have encouraged one of our representatives to pick up the ball on this one, or I guess we could have submitted draft legislation – not sure how that works - but we waited too long, and will have to revisit this next session. 

    The remaining five are 

    1.  Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education
    2.  Single-Payer Healthcare
    3.  Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, moratorium on the Eastern Shore
    4.  End of Life Act
    5.  Correctional Facilities and Police Officers – Immigration status

     

    I should mention Cecilia Plante from the Maryland Legislative Coalition before I get much further – the MLC is tracking about 200 bills, and Cecilia has brought us along, kept us well-informed, and been extremely patient with us. Her expertise has been absolutely vital to our efforts, so thank you, thank you Cecilia.

    Okay, back to the top five.

    One. The Kirwan Commission addresses quality in Maryland's public education system, which previously held the top spot in the U.S. but has slid toward the bottom of the top ten in recent years. Worse, state testing puts us below the national average, at 29 out of 50. Fewer than 40 percent of Maryland high school grads can read at a 10th grade level, or pass an Algebra I assessment. 

    Kirwan recommends dramatically increased funding for schools and school construction in an effort to reverse this. As I understand it, there's a $4 billion price tag, so... significant.

    So far, the Kirwan bills are steaming full ahead, but we are continuing to monitor them, and associated funding bills, and if we get an indication that they need added support, we will be ready to take what actions we can.

    Two. Single-Payer. We've sent along our support to Senator Pinsky, for his bill which would create a commission to study the transition from our current “dog's breakfast” of a health care system, toward something hopefully better. The bill is SB 228, hearing was yesterday. Pinsky would allocate $3 million to get the commission going, and even though that's a drop in the bucket next to the money attached to the Kirwan bills, with the focus on education this legislative session the “Commission on Universal Health Care” bill has a hard road ahead of it. 

    We took action this week, in an effort to get it through committee. Although there aren't any local legislators on the Senate Finance Committee, we contacted every member anyway, asking them to support SB 228 - guess we'll see what happened.

    Moving on. Am I going too fast? I do I want to talk for a minute about actions, after the recap.

    Three. The CAFO moratorium. I heard from Debbie Gousha just last week about a crossfiled bill that would deny wastewater discharge permits for these large agricultural-industrial outfits if they try to expand their operations, so that's a mechanism for imposing the moratorium. They are SB 841, with a hearing on March 11, crossfiled with HB 1312, with a hearing on March 4. I'm guessing we will be taking a weekly action on these bills in short order.

    There's another bill that we're watching, as I understand it this one has a better chance of going somewhere, that's SB 928, which would require CAFOs to submit a manure transport plan before receiving, again, a discharge permit. We submitted testimony on this, I think. Senator Carozza is on the committee, the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, so it would be appropriate to bother her about this. 

    Four. End of Life –  HB 643, this one TIED in the legislature last session, let's try again. It's currently scheduled for a hearing in the Senate... 

    I don't think we've had a weekly action on this one, but we've been following it. The bill carefully provides patients with terminal illness, who don't expect to live out the half-year, aid in dying.

    Finally, five, HB 388, this Maryland's version of the TRUST Act, and it would put limits on local law enforcement's ability to ask people about their immigration status, detain people for federal

     immigration, basically it would limit local law enforcement from doing ICE's job for them. The opposition likes to use the word “Sanctuary” in relation to this bill, but I view it more as treating people like human beings. We had a weekly action on this one, and I sent my delegate a longer letter in support as well. This one's personal to me – my work partner and good friend was deported back to Honduras last year.

    We have also sent out calls for action on a few bills outside our top five - 

    • Back in January, we wrote in support of HB 4, which would close the long gun loophole. This passed in the House on Feb. 4  by a vote of 87-47. It's now in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee - need to keep an eye on it, make sure it doesn't die there.
    • There's bill being pitched Wicomico County Council that would make it illegal to smoke medical marijuana in public. The LSPC opposes this bill, and we've been writing council members to say so. I've been told the best way to tamp down this prospective bill is to lobby District 1 Council Member Ernest Davis and District 2 Council Member Nicole Acle for 哲o� votes. Council Members McCain and Hastings are already 哲o's,� we need either Davis or Acle to squeak past, getting both of them would be safer. 
    • Community Choice Energy.  This is a bill that would enable county and local governments to aggregate customers, with an emphasis on promoting renewables but also an intention to negotiate for lower energy rates for customers who haven't had nearly the benefit they may have expected from third-party suppliers. If anybody's still jotting numbers down, it's HB 561/SB 315. We took action on this out of a desire to support some environmental legislation while we were waiting on the CAFO bills to break loose, but also because it's a good bill.
    • We also had an action to solicit testimony in support of offshore wind, ahead of a Public Service Commission hearing in Ocean City. Two wind farm projects have been approved, but the companies have now proposed larger turbines, so the matter came back for more discussion.

    Moving on. I would love it if more people got involved on the legislative committee; it would be good to get some different perspectives. I'm sure we all have our particular passions, and I'd love input on legislation that YOU feel passionate about.

    And, finally, getting to some more hands-on actions and activities, we've been talking about joining forces with some other like-minded groups, and to that end we'd like to encourage anyone who's available to swell the numbers at the Sierra Club's Lobby Night, which is this coming Monday night, in Annapolis. 11 Bladen St. The action runs from 4 to 8 p.m., if you're coming try to get in around 3 or 3:30, so you can get parked and get through building security by 4. The Sierra Club has their own legislative priorities. You can check out the whole list on their website, but I'll mention their top two - the Just Transition Off of Coal bill, and the Climate-Based Decision-Making by the Public Service Commission bill.

    We are also planning our own Lobby Night, the date is Monday, March 9. We're going to try to schedule some meetings, but as I understand it, Monday nights are usually free nights for legislators, so we may have some success just showing up if we can't get on a schedule. So, between now and then, we'll be getting ready to advocate for some specific legislation, and hopefully we can all work out some of the logistics, meetups, and carpools before then. 

    And I've been looking into some possible venues for an “Eatin' Meetin',” a working dinner, which combines two of my favorite things  - politics and food. I've got a couple possibles, they're not free but not outrageous, either, so that's something I'm hoping we can throw into the mix, make our legislative committee work more fun. And...I hope you guys are interested enough to get involved!

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB0228 Commission on Universal Health Care

    TESTIMONY FOR SB0228

                                                 Commission on Universal Health Care

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Pinsky 

    Committee: Finance 

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein,  Chair of the LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

     

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB0228 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. 

    Since our organization's creation, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members have been strong supporters of efforts to move our nation towards a Single-Payer Healthcare System that provides quality healthcare to all.  SB0228 would allow our state to lead the nation by giving us the opportunity to join the rest of the industrialized world by transitioning our current system to a Single Payer system in the most efficient and cost-effective manner to ensure all Marylanders have quality healthcare.  

    SB0228 would accomplish the first step by creating and funding a commission to collect the information needed to create a plan so that Maryland can join the rest of the industrialized world by implementing a Single-Payer Healthcare System and ensuring that it provides quality healthcare to all Marylanders.  

    SB 0228 also allows us to become the nation’s leader when it comes to healthcare by showing us the way to innovate and lead in the same way that Maryland did with the hospital system. This commission will also show the people of Maryland that their legislators are committed to lowering the costs for healthcare,  providing more coverage for things like mental health and dental, and ensuring that all Marylanders have health insurance. 

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

  • TESTIMONY FOR SB1000 The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

    TESTIMONY FOR SB1000

    The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

    Bill Sponsor: President Ferguson

    Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Karen Smith, Communications Co-Chair of the LSPC and Somerset County Educator   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    In 2009, Maryland public schools were ranked #1 in the nation by three separate, independent studies. This ranking held true until 2013. Sadly, this is not the standard any longer. In 2019, Maryland’s schools were ranked 4th in the nation by Education Week.

    The Kirwan Commission and the Blueprint for Maryland’s future have become a hotly contested issue among legislators, educators, and taxpayers. Most would agree--if only in theory--that prioritizing education is necessary for the future of a healthy economy and quality of life of Marylanders. The aim of this very comprehensive bill is to increase funding for universal pre-K, special education, teacher training, the concentration of poverty grants, and teacher salaries, to name only a few priorities of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

    While many of those who argue against the bill do so because they say the cost is too high, we at the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus would argue that the cost of not funding the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations is too high. Underprepared teachers cannot hope to prepare students fully. Teacher-education programs are not attracting students. Local universities such as UMES and Salisbury University have few students enrolled in teacher preparatory programs. And why, once certificated, would they choose to stay locally and earn less for doing the same job?

    In addition, funding the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will level the playing field for schools on the Lower Eastern Shore. Our students must meet the same standards in order to receive a Maryland diploma as those who attend better-funded schools. Teachers in Maryland must also meet the same standards in order to be certificated, yet salaries are not competitive. While there is some consistency for 1st-year teachers with only a bachelor’s degree, once teachers gain the required degrees and more experience, there is a huge disparity in salary between the counties. Even though teachers on the Lower Shore must meet the same qualifications in order to remain certificated, they are often paid much less for doing the same job! A teacher with a master’s degree in Wicomico County would have a minimum salary of $77,364. That same teacher would earn $106,543 in Montgomery County. This is unconscionable. How can we hope to attract and keep highly qualified teachers? The answer is that we cannot.

    We are asking for a FAVORABLE vote to fund the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. Our students truly cannot wait any longer for us to make necessary changes to an education system that is failing our students.

  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0561 ELECTRIC INDUSTRY – COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY

    TESTIMONY FOR HB0561

    ELECTRIC INDUSTRY – COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Charkoudian

    Committee: Economic Matters

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:   

    Position: FAVORABLE

     

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0561 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 designed to protect, and improve, air and water quality, and legislation that recognizes the status quo for energy production no longer meets our needs – climate change is upon us. Inasmuch as HB 0561 promotes renewable energy, it satisfies these environmental priorities. The bill also shows potential for lowering energy costs for many customers, by giving county and local governments the ability to aggregate larger pools, and concomitantly negotiate for the same savings high demand (bulk) customers enjoy. 

    Evidence shows low-income households pursuing lower energy costs have taken a huge hit from bad actors in the third-party supply industry. HB 0561 can reverse that damage, and in doing so not only encourage but enable those same households to participate in supporting renewable energy sources. It may be there is an as yet unrecognized, deep, reservoir of interest in renewable energy whose light the practicalities of life have hitherto kept hidden under a bushel. 

    HB 0561 requires no subsidy, although it is certainly arguable that aggregation would be worthy of subsidy for its economic justice benefits alone, not to mention its potential environmental benefits. However, the bill leaves these judgments entirely up to customers, with an opt-out provision. The caucus anticipates that a majority of customers will find county and local aggregation plans a good fit, both economically and with an eye toward stewardship of the Earth. 

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

  • Lower Shore Progressive Caucus 2019 Legislative Agenda

    Legislative Agenda 2019

     

    Priority Legislation Issues

    1. Medicare for All/Single Payer Health Care
    2. A Minimum Wage increase to $15 an HR  
    3. Debt Free Higher Education for 4-year institutions.
    4. Trust Act
    5. Community Healthy Air Act

    Other Supported Legislation

    Economic Issues

    • Worker Rights
    1. Collective bargaining for community college workers
    2. Statewide collective bargaining for local government workers
    3. Overtime for low-income salaried employees
    • College Debt forgiveness
    • Oppose the construction of the new Redskins stadium at Oxon Cove Park.
    • Create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

    Racial Issues

    •  Criminal Justice Reform
      1. Ending the Bail system in Maryland
      2. Elimination of mandatory minimum sentencing
      3. Revamp of State k-12 school funding formula, including new school reforms
      4. Juvenile Justice Reform  
      5. Legalization of Marijuana
    • Ban the use of Nooses and Swastika to threaten or intimidate (HB-04)  
    • “U-Visa” bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for victims of crime who cooperate with local law enforcement.
    • Removing Winder Sign from Wicomico County House (local issue Wicomico County)

    Environmental

    • Support the construction of the Wind Projects off the coast of Ocean City
    • Oppose the Eastern Shore Natural Gas Pipeline plan.
    • Increase Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 50% by 2030
    • Green Amendment that will set forth the inalienable right to a clean environment
    • Community Solar Legislation to expand the process of having citizens invest in solar farms
    • Ban single-use plastics

    Democracy Initiatives

    • Support Rank Choice Voting initiatives on the Lower Shore
    • Small donor public financed election on the Lower Shore
    • Constitutional Amendment Repealing Citizens United
    • Non-Partisan district reform

    Other

    • Ban untraceable 3D guns