Digest: February 22nd

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It's Time To Use Your Words!

With the Pandemic, in-person lobby days and in-person testimony has been severely limited. Lawmakers have only been able to meet with their constituents via zoom. Which means that lawmakers are cut off from traditional methods of communication. So contacting your legislator to let them know which bills you support is more important this year, then ever before.

With 40 days of the 90-day General Assembly Session behind us, most of our priority bills have had public hearings in one or both committees, but very few have been brought to a vote, and none have officially been voted out of committee. Now is the time to contact our lawmakers on specific committees before voting sessions are scheduled for these bills. This is the most critical time to make your opinions known and to emphasize the importance of passing significant measures to move our State forward.  If you are interested in a specific legislation, click on it to see its page on MGALEG or click on this link for a look at all of the legislation that we are tracking.

Our task forces are sending out alerts asking you to contact your Senator or any of your Delegates, especially If you have a representative who sits on specific committees. Your voice, as a constituent, is especially important and we need you to respond accordingly. If you receive an email from us requesting you contact your representative, please take a minute and click on the link. Sending an email to your representative is quick and easy and you can customize our template to suit your strengths.

Thank you, let’s make sure that our values are heard in the public policies enacted this year!

 

How to Meet Legislators and Influence Legislation

Below is a sample outline to organize yourself in your communications with your elected officials.  It’s amazing how many times we can forget to mention the major points we had thought about a few hours before.  Taking time to contact them by Zoom, Phone or Email, can have a significant impact especially if you tell your story as to why the legislation is important to you and not feel you must be an expert on the issue and the specific legislation.

Introduction:
Briefly introduce yourself and tell where you are from (particularly if you are a constituent), a little about yourself, including the school you attend, the job you hold, and/or the group you represent.
 
Issue:
Briefly convey what issue and bill number you would like to discuss.   If time allows, explain why the issue is important to you and/or how it affects you.  Try to tell a story, as opposed to listing facts and figures.
 
Values:
Briefly explain how your UU faith supports your position on this issue.  Mention specific UU principles if applicable.  Most legislators think of people of faith representing different views than UUs have about many subjects.
 
The “Ask”:
Ask how the legislator feels about the issue, whether s/he can support your position, and what his /her concerns may be.  It is critical to not criticize them for their position or get upset with them if they have differing views.  You could provide them background information to support your position.
 
Thanks:
Thank the legislator for current or past support, if applicable, and for his/her time.
 
Resources: 
Maryland General Assembly Website:  https://mgaleg.maryland.gov
Advocacy during Pandemic (slides) - https://tinyurl.com/y6dkboz8  
Social Media Toolkit - https://tinyurl.com/yy2a3wrp

Get Informed:

If you don't know who your Representatives are, you can use the Legislator Look Up from the Maryland General Assembly below to find out who they are and what Committees they are serving on .

 

Must See TV!!

Due to the pandemic, all of our lobbying will be of the virtual variety. However, you can still watch the committee hearings, which will be broadcast on YouTube. If you would like to watch the livestream you need to subscribe to the Committe You Tube Channel on the Committee Home Page on https://mgaleg.maryland.gov. Or you can click on the links below to access the archives.

 

Stay Informed

“The Latest” Blogs - https://www.uulmmd.org/blog 

Current Status of Priority Bills and Actions to Take - updated constantly: https://www.uulmmd.org/current-status-of-priority-legislat 

Issues - 2021 Session - Status of priority and related bills:

Contact Us!
 
If you have a relevant information, please use the hotlink to contact the appropriate task force leader, or our Coordinator, Ashley Egan

This week is CCAN's Climate Action Week  (February 22-25). The event will kick off today at 5pm with a virtual rally. There will be Grassroots events on the evenings of Feb 22-25, depending on where you live. The focus will be on The Climate Solutions Now Act, the Transit Safety & Investment Act, the Community Choice Energy - Pilot Act and the Consideration of Labor and Climate. Please consider attending.

On Friday, The Senate EHEA Committee voted 8-2, a bipartisan vote, to move the legislation forward in amended form on the Climate Solutions Now Act (HB 583 / SB 414).

This increases the prospects for getting this legislation out of the Senate. However, this is not the time to be complacent! If your Senator is on the Budget and Taxation Committee (see members) now is a good time for them to hear from you! Committee votes could come next week.If your Senator is on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee (see members) you can always send them a thank you. Please Note: We sent out an email last week to all of our members who have Senators on those committees, you can find it here.

The Transit Safety and Investment Act (HB 114 SB 199) had a successful hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on 2/3/21. Prospects for passage to the full House are good. 

In other bills that we are following the Consideration of Labor and Climate Act (SB 83) was given a favorable report with amendments in the Senate Finance Committee. This act requires the Public Service Commission to consider the impact of any decision on Labor and Climate.

 
This week, SB 671 Citations will be heard in the Judicial Proceedings Commiton February 25th. This is the last of our returning bills from the 2020 session to have a hearing. None have been called for committee vote.  So IF YOU HAVE A SENATOR OR DELEGATE serving on the House Judiciary or Senate Judicial Proceedings Comm. please contact  them soon and ask them for a supporting vote for: 
1. HB 3 / SB  202 Lifers with Parole Removes the Governor from signing off for those with life sentence to have parole
2. HB 445 / SB 671 - Citations - police officer may use a citation ticket in place of arrest for minor -non-violent offences. - Senate bill willl be heard on Feb. 25th. 
3.  HB 131 - Step-Down Program - Prohibits anyone from being released directly from prison to the community until after 6 month transition program is implemented. 
4. HB 83/SB 397 - Correctional Education - Recognizes long term educational  accomplishments by awarding a block of diminutions credits which help reduce the length of sentence.   
 
Police Accountability Bills: 
HB  151 – Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights - Repeal
HB  670 – Police Reform and Accountability Act of 2021 - Omnibus Bill from Speaker Adrian Jones. 

HB 139 – Law Enforcement Officers - Use of Force -Would establish the crime of "improper use of force by law enforcement officer."   Would require all law enforcement agencies to establish policies (reviewed by the Attorney General) and to post data on use of force incidents. Would also authorize civil suits for use of force by a law enforcement officer.               

This year, UULM-MD is supporting HB 375 / SB 211 the “Time to Care” Act to create a family and medical leave insurance program to provide paid leave. The Bills have had their hearings, but have not had their votes yet.  

It is existing federal law (FLMA 1993) that employers must provide job-protected, unpaid leave for family and medical reasons. However, employees in lower paid jobs cannot afford to take unpaid leave. Ironically, it is most often the best paid workers whose employers provide paid leave as a benefit. This bill will provide the economic basis for all Marylanders to tend to their individual and family health needs through paid leave from work. In short, it provides time to care.

The bill provides for:
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid leave for family and medical reasons
  • Payments are 90% of pay for most workers and 50% for top 1/3 of earners.
  • Employers and employees jointly contribute to the insurance program

This bill recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of every person, provides equity and justice in human relations, and reflects the interdependence of all existence of which we are a part.

 

Both of our priority bills have been introduced in both houses. They have had their hearings in the Senate and will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on March 1st. 

HB 200 / SB 479-  Access to Firearms - Storage Requirements bill- Jaelynn’s Law, in memory of a young grl who was killed at her high school by her ex-boyfriend who took the gun from his parents’ home.  However, the bill would also help prevent suicides. According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, in 82% of youth suicides, the victim gained access to the firearm from a family member. It’s important to note suicide rates among children of color are skyrocketing. Research shows that the suicide rate is two times higher for black elementary school aged children compared with white children of the same age group. This bill would address this frightening trend. 

HB 638 / SB 624-  Public Safety - Untraceable and Undetectable Firearms - attempts to regulate the manufacture of untraceable and undetectable firearms by requiring a serial number and background check.

 

 

 

 

Please contact your Senator and Delegate/s and urge them to support HB 463 / SB 172- Maryland Health Equity Resource Act (HERC)

This proposed legislation would create and fund services to underserved areas of the state.  It is modeled on 2012-2016 Health Enterprise Zones Pilot Program which increased access to health resources, improved residents’ health, reduced hospital admissions, and created cost savings.  Funding stopped in 2016 as there was no permanent funding mechanism. This program will address the poor health outcomes that contribute to racial, ethnic, disability, and geographic health inequities which have been even more evident to Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to emphasize to legislators the need to provide a permanent funding especially the one penny on a dollar increase on the alcohol tax which is included in the two bills.  Please check out this article in The Baltimore Sun, for more information

Easy Enrollment Program: This proposal is based on legislation we supported in 2018 to have a box on the state income tax form for people to say they do not have health insurance and would like to hear from the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange if they are eligible for free or low-cost health coverage.  A new 2020 focus group study from Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative shows strong interest for building on this model by helping unemployed Marylanders get connected with health coverage once they fill out their unemployment insurance forms. This proposal was incorporated into overall bills SB893 and HB1002, Unemployment Insurance Revisions. 

HB 1002 will be heard on February 23 at 1:30 by House Economic Matters Committee, we submitted testimony on the specific provision we support.  If your Representative is on the Committee, ask them to support these provisions on Page 4 of the Bill which could enable people to enroll in health insurance coverage once they apply for Unemployment benefits.

We are almost there! Hearings are scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee on March 3, 2021 for HB 16 (Dignity Not Detention) and HB  304 (Maryland Trust Act). Today, at 2pm we will be sending members who have a Delegate on the House Judiciary Committee a targeted action form that will allow you contact them and ask them to suport our two priority bills that will be heard on March 3rd. UULM-MD members are encouraged to submit written testimony. For your convenience, UULM-MD will submit it for you. Send testimony to us at immigration@uulmd.org no later than February 28. If you prefer to submit it personally, you must have a free MyMGA account and must submit it digitally 48 hours before the hearing. Please email us if you have any questions about submitting testimony.

HB 23 - Dignity Not Detention will ban any new contracts or renewals of existing contracts with detention facilities operated wholly or in part with private corporations to detain immigrants, will terminate existing county agreements with ICE to detain immigrants, and will require public notice of any zoning changes intended to construct immigrant detention facilities

HB 304 - the Maryland Trust Act will limit state and local police partnership with ICE and prevent police from inquiring about immigration status, detaining on behalf of ICE and notifying and transferring immigrants to ICE. The intention is to protect immigrants from coercion and encourage community members to call on police safely. The bill also requires the MD Attorney General to establish policies and guidance regarding ICE enforcement on the premises of schools, courthouses, and more particularly during the pandemic, hospitals.

For more information visit https://www.uulmmd.org/im-2021-session

You can find sample testimony on Jim's Channing Justice website.

Thank you for your continued support and advocacy.

 

Repeal our Shameful State Song! 

Maryland is the only state in the country with a Confederate symbol for its State song. Its lyrics glorify Maryland’s shameful slave-holding history. To think that children have been singing this hateful song for seven decades, makes me cringe with angry embarrassment. Let this be the year for us to topple Maryland’s musical monument to the Confederacy and send a strong message that all are welcome in today’s Maryland.

While there are multiple bills that will be introduced this year in regards to our state song, we are supporting the Repeal Bill (HB 667 / SB 8) for the following reasons.

1)The Repeal bill is simple, costs nothing and it's long overdue. 

2) State leadership has signalled their support of this bill--let’s not lose the momentum by also insisting on Replacement this year,

3) the Repeal and Compete Bill (HB 437) contains problematic language around copyrights for the composers of contending songs, so it’s best to not get into a contest until that’s resolved, and

4) This would give the Speaker and President of the Senate time to appoint a panel to choose a new song or develop a process to do so.

Please take 5 minutes to watch this song of pride and inclusion that teaches us about all the people who have made Maryland truly the Free State.  

“Maryland, My Maryland: The Free State Song” (lyrics by Representative Jamie Raskin, composed  by Steve Jones, video by Nadja Bruskin)  

 

Task Force Calendars

Each Task Force has it's own task force calendar, which will show when bills are up for committee or votes, lobby days, and our partner's events.

Please email your task force leader if you know of an event that we should add. 

 

Upcoming Hearings – Week of February 15, 2021

 
Key (Priority Bills in Bold)
Climate Change
Criminal Justice
Economic Justice
Gun Violence
Healthcare
Immigration
 

Tuesday, February 23

House Economic Affairs Committee – 1:30 p.m.

HB 1002 - Delegate Charkoudian - Unemployment Insurance - Revisions and Required Study

 

Wednesday, February 24

House Health & Government Operations Committee – 1:30 p.m.

HB 667 - Delegate Sample-Hughes - General Provisions - State Song - Repeal

 

Thursday, February 25

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee - 11:00 a.m.

SB 671 - Senator Waldstreicher - Criminal Procedure – Charging Procedures – Citations

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