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Below is a summary of our recent legislative forum. If you would like to get involved in working with us on future forums, please email email@example.com or call 301-587-5559.
Progressive Neighbors Legislative Forum
Over 80 progressive activists attended Progressive Neighbors' very successful and informative “Wrap-Up and Analysis of Legislative Session” Forum on Sunday May 5 at the Silver Spring Civic Building.
The Forum, which was co-sponsored by Progressive Maryland, featured the following elected state representatives from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties: Senator Jamie Raskin (Dist. 20) and Delegates Bonnie Cullison, Dist. 19; Ana Sol Gutierrez, District 18; Sheila Hixson, District 20; Tom Hucker, District 20; Eric Luedtke, District 14; Heather Mizeur, District 20; and Aisha Braveboy, Dist 25 (which is in Prince George's County). The audience included participants from Montgomery County Districts 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20 as well as several activists from Prince George's County.
Kate Planco Waybright, Executive Director of Progressive Maryland summarized the 2013 legislative session at which 766 of 2,610 introduced bills were passed. Successes included wind power approval, repeal of the death penalty, firearms safety, transportation improvements, expanded voting, and protections for pregnant women in the workplace. Failures included the Lockheed Martin giveaway, combined reporting, minimum wage, living wage, gender discrimination and fracking.
Heather Mizeur spoke about the success of repealing the death penalty in Maryland, making us the 18th state to do so. She also spoke of her disappointment that more wasn’t accomplished to control fracking and improve conditions for workers with increased minimum wage and paid sick days.
Questions and answers
Christine Real de Azua asked about the Genuine Progress Indicator, an index that measures beneficial, as opposed to gross, economic activity, specifically how the legislators plan to use this new tool.
Mike Tabor asked about “stealth” legislation, giving the example of the Lockheed Martin tax exemption bill which was introduced with little notice. Another example was the Agriculture Certainty Bill which exempts big farms from certain regulations.
Fred Evans asked what the legislature can do about the sorry, corrupt state of prisons, specifically the Baltimore City Detention Center.
Tim Willard asked about wind power and wanted to know what the next step is. He mentioned “community energy.”
An unidentified participant asked when Maryland will repeal its anti-sodomy laws.
Lorig Charkoudian brought up food policy and the need to promote local food production.
Stan Boyd brought up public utilities. He said that while rates may be controlled, he thinks that the utilities get “legislative breaks.”
Steve Mortellaro asked what happened with renters’ rights.
Ed Tevor wanted to know what progressive taxation measures were being considered, e.g. marginal rates, loopholes and graduated property tax. He asked which side the Maryland government is on. The top 1%? or the bottom 99%?
Luis Zapata asked for a rundown of progressive issues for next year.
David Moon asked about a change in leadership (Busch, Miller) in Annapolis.
Marc Elrich (Montgomery County Councilmember) brought up the issue of how state-wide legislation has a big effect on the county, e.g. Lockheed Martin. He feels that there is a “mutual disconnect” between state and local elected officials and there needs to be a “mutual connect.”
A Prince Georges County Resident brought up the issue of fair, accurate voting procedures.
Participants were treated to the poems of two young rap artists - Hindwa Corneh and Tommy Raskin.
At the conclusion of the question and answer session with elected state representatives, Mike Tabor, Dana Beyer and Ken Stephens led a discussion of a draft progressive legislative scorecard and analysis of legislators in the 2013 session. Participants focused on what needs to be done to make the Maryland Legislature more progressive and more responsive to the needs of the community of residents in Maryland.
Progressive Neighbors is very proud of the role we played in the Nov. 6th elections. We covered early voting in Silver Spring, Rockville, and Burtonsville and, on Election Day, we had 26 volunteers at 13 polls in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Rockville, Bethesda, and Leisure World, plus we had help at a few other polls. We passed out 9,500 Progressive Voter Guides and the Guide was put on a number of neighborhood listservs and also emailed to hundreds of our neighbors. We received a very positive response from voters and had many good discussions about the ballot questions and the candidates with folks waiting on line.
The steering committee would like to thank everyone who helped out.
And, of course, the election results were great! At the end of this email is the score card on the races and ballot questions where we endorsed.
We're In a Hole: We spent $1,700 for printing the Voter Guides and for Progressive Neighbors t-shirts, and we don't have that much money in our treasury. We need your help to retire our debt. Go to https://www.wepay.com/donations/progressiveneighbors or www.progressiveneighborsmd.org to make a secure online contribution. A $25 contribution gets you an attractive Progressive Neighbors t-shirt!
Support the Montgomery County Renters Alliance, Inc.
The Renters Alliance was formed in direct response to the Montgomery County Tenant Work Group report which called for the establishment of an organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of renters. Now the Alliance is ready to build a renter movement in the County that calls upon landlords and government to keep rents affordable and rent increases fair, end evictions without just cause, encourage a more renter-responsive government, and give all renters a greater voice in all County affairs
The Alliance's immediate aim is to create a database and develop Alliance contacts throughout the County. More than 25% of County residents rent, and many more residents support fairness for renters.
Visit the Alliance at www.RentersAlliance.org and sign up, whether you are a renter or a home or condo owner who supports renters' rights. And please share this email with your friends and listserves.