Hi Friend,

Many thanks to DoTheMostGood's Maryland Legislative Action Team for all its work in advocating for progressive bills in Annapolis this session. And kudos to all of you who took action by attending lobby days, giving testimony, making phone calls and sending emails to your elected officials. This is how we protect our democracy and extend its protections to everyone!

There's less than a week left in the 2019 Maryland General Assembly legislative session, so please use your voice NOW on remaining policy issues. See how to take action below.

Spotlight Events

April 17 Happy Hour With Special Guest Congressman Trone


Looking for ways to stay engaged with your fellow activists this spring? DoTheMostGood MoCo is holding its first Happy Hour at locally owned and operated Botanero Restaurant in the King Farm section of Rockville (800 Pleasant Drive) on Wednesday April 17 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. (No cover, no minimum; enjoy free snacks and specials on food and drinks.)

Our special guest will be Congressman David J. Trone, who represents much of MoCo's upcounty community. Spread the word to your friends in Frederick and Garrett County, too!


How Progressive is Maryland? Find out at  May 4 Legislative WrapUp

Please register now for our next community forum.

Join us Saturday May 4 from 10 a.m. to noon at Wooton High School in Rockville. How Progressive is Maryland: Takeaways from the 2019 Legislative Session will take a look at the 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly, which ends April 8.

Speakers will include House Majority Leader, Del. Kathleen Dumais (D15), Senator Kagan (D17), and Delegate David Moon (D20) .

Take Legislative Action for Maryland

SDo your part to help our priority bills during this last week of the legislative session by calling or emailing your state senators and delegates and urging them to vote yes on these bills. Find contact information for your legislators here. Go to the 2019 Maryland Legislative Session page on our website for contact info on the Montgomery County delegation and details on bills needing action now.


environment

The Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 516) passed the Senate, with a few amendments, by a veto-proof majority, and is now stuck in the House Rules Committee. The bill will double Maryland's Renewal Portfolio Standard to 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030, and by 2023 will determine the best plan to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040. Trash incineration would no longer be considered a renewable source.

Two recent articles in Maryland Matters, one on Senator Chris Van Hollen's support for the legislation and an op-ed on climate change risks, emphasize the importance of passing the CEJA. Our Montgomery County delegates are pushing hard for the House to pass the bill as passed in the Senate, but time is running out.

ACTION: It's time to let Speaker of thr House Del. Mike Busch know that we support the Clean Energy Jobs Act and we want him to use his office to ensure the bill gets out of the Rules Committee in time to get a vote from the Economic Matters Committee and reach the floor of House. Call 410-841-3800 or email michael.busch@house.state.md.us and tell Busch the CEJA must pass the General Assembly this session.

Since the bill will be voted on in the Economic Matters Committee in the House, emphasize the economic benefits to Maryland from passing the CEJA, such as:

  • Maryland is losing solar and wind energy jobs to other states with more aggressive clean energy goals. Passing CEJA will reverse that and bring thousands of good jobs to Maryland.
  • Each year of waiting for passage costs the state potential revenue. For example, the federal tax credit for solar installation will decline from 30 percent this year to 26 percent next year. If the CEJA is passed in 2020 rather than in 2019, Maryland stands to lose $240 million in potential revenue from federal tax credits.

You can use social media to thank sponsors and champions of CEJA as well as to encourage its passage. Not only will this help raise awareness of the CEJA, but it can help show legislators that supporting CEJA can bring them good publicity.


Chlorpyrifos Ban (HB 275) would ban the use of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos after December 31, 2020. The bill passed in the House of Delegates on March 15 and has moved to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

ACTION: Contact MoCo Senators:

  • Senator Cheryl Kagan (D17) is a member of this committee. Contact her at Cheryl.Kagan@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3134 to express your support for the bill, and ask her to encourage other committee members to support it.
  • Senator Susan Lee (D16), susan.lee@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3124, while not a member of this committee, is the Senate Majority Whip, so you can contact her to emphasize this legislation's importance to our state.

Talking/writing points:

  • The pesticide kills bees that pollinate our crops, as well as fish and insect populations that many birds rely on for food.
  • People can be exposed to toxic chlorpyrifos residues in foods that have been sprayed, through contaminated drinking water, and toxic drift.
  • Young children exposed to chlorpyrifos may show learning and behavior problems.
  • The federal EPA has determined that no level of chlorpyrifos can be considered safe and has recommended that the pesticide be banned for all uses. But because the Trump administration does not support a ban, Maryland must act to ban this toxic chemical.


TRANSPORTATION

Public-Private Partnerships Reforms (HB 1091) would reform the public-private partnership (P3) process and rein in Maryland's Department of Transportation's P3 project to add toll lanes to I-270 and the Beltway. The bill creates strong protections for the state's financial interests in P3 transportation projects over $500 million and requires an independent auditor to assess the creditworthiness of a proposed agreement, and it also requires a completed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to contract solicitation. The bill passed the House of Delegates with a veto-proof majority, and is now before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. A hearing is scheduled for April 3. MDOT's plans for the I-270/I-495 P3 project are moving quickly.

ACTION: Contact:

  • Delegate Kumar Barve (D17), Chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee at Kumar.barve@house.state.md.us or 410-841-3990 and ask him to press his colleagues in the Senate to pass the bill
  • Senator Nancy King (D39), Chair of the Senate Budget and Finance Committee, at Nancy.king@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3686 to allow a committee vote on the bill
  • Your own state senator (find contact information for your legislators here) to vote for the bill when it reaches the floor.

Health Care


Prescription Drug Affordability Board: (HB 0768) was overwhelmingly approved by the House. The bill would create the first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation Prescription Drug Affordability Board to curb drug costs for local and state government

But our work is not done. The drug corporations and PhRMA made clear at hearings before the House that they strongly oppose the House-passed measure, and they suggested changes such as removing all upper payment limits authority from the board, which would have substantially weakened it. We must do all we can to block the efforts to weaken HB 0768 in the Senate.

ACTION: Contact MoCo Senators in the Finance and Rules Committees to thank them for their support of this bill and urge them to work hard for its passage:

  • Senator Brian Feldman (D15), Committee Vice Chair, at brian.feldman@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3169.
  • Senator Ben Kramer (D19), at ben.kramer@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3151.
  • Senator Nancy King (D39), Rules Committee, at Nancy.king@senate.state.md.us or 410-841-3686

Please contact your own senator, too, even if he or she is not on the Senate Finance or Rules Committee, and urge the senator to vote favorably for the bill when it comes to a vote on the floor without weakening amendments. To find contact information for your senators, go to: http://mdlegislative.com/legislators.

Talking/writing points:

  • Skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs adversely affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Marylanders. It is imperative that prescription prices be lowered for these higher-priced drugs.
  • The inability to pay medical bills is a leading cause of bankruptcies.
  • Many residents do not fill prescriptions because they cannot afford the cost.
  • It is time to stand up to the drug companies; this legislation should not be weakened to placate the drug companies.


Key Maryland Legislative Updates


  • The General Assembly passed legislation gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Governor Hogan vetoed the legislation. The legislature overturned the veto.
  • The General Assembly passed legislation allowing local school districts to set their own public school calendars, meaning that the school year could start prior to Labor Day. Governor Hogan vetoed the legislation. The legislature overturned the veto.
  • The operating budget approved by the General Assembly provides $12.5 billion for public schools in grades K-12 and an additional $255 million to implement the Kirwan Commission recommendations this budget year. That sum may be enlarged if the legislature enacts a sales tax for online sales. In addition, a framework for $500 million in school construction funding for next year has been enacted.
  • The General Assembly passed legislation providing that Federal employees forced to work without pay during a government shutdown may collect unemployment benefits. Governor Hogan signed the bill into law.
  • The legislature failed to pass the End-of-Life Option Act. It would have given people judged to have six months or less to live the option of obtaining lethal drugs from a physician, drugs they could then self-administer. The House of Delegates passed the legislation, but it failed in the Senate on a 23-23 vote.


Practice How To Intervene If You Witness Harassment

Last Saturday, March 30, DTMG MoCo and the District 17 Democratic Club hosted a Bystander Intervention Training at Rachel Carson Elementary School in Gaithersburg. Representatives from the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition shared key tips for bystanders who witness a potentially threatening situation on how they might step in to assist a target of harassment. They included:

  • Stay alert to what's happening in public.

  • Pay close attention if you witness a bad situation developing in front of you.

  • When offering support to a target of harassment, quietly introduce yourself to the target, and respect their wishes if they do not want your help. Move back but continue to monitor the situation.

  • If the attacker tries to engage you directly for getting involved, do not speak, make eye contact or escalate the drama. If you feel unsafe, leave the scene and offer to take the targeted person with you.

Attendees who had a chance to practice their supportive and de-escalation techniques at the event last Saturday said the training left them feeling confident, empowered and informed.

You can find a handout of tips for bystander intervention on our website

Help Refugee/Asylum Seekers with Rides or Donations

DTMG continues our work with Takoma Park Mobilization's immigration subcommittee and the Montgomery County chapter of the ACLU to assist refugees vetted as asylum seekers who are being sent to our area. Train to be a greeter for arrivals at the Silver Spring bus station or volunteer to drive refugees to Baltimore for check-ins with ICE; contact Roxanne Weiss at ranaraine@gmail.com. Direct Support for Immigrants has also set up an online donation site here to collect money for legal fees, burner phones, Lyft rides, etc.

The group is also collecting items for welcome bags for newly-arriving refugees, with donations of items including:

  • Socks, gloves, hats, coats, and towels;
  • tissues, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer;
  • and personal care and hygiene items such as deodorant, combs, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
To donate, please contact Gwen Stewart at gwenatsumner@gmail.com.


Upcoming Events

County Plans Hearings on 2020 Operating Budget

The Montgomery County Council will hold five public hearings early this month on the county's fiscal year 2020 Operating Budget. All five hearings will be held in the third floor hearing room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville.

  • Monday April 8 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Monday April 8 at 7 p.m.

  • Tuesday April 9 at 7 p.m.

  • Wednesday April 10 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Wednesday April 10 at 7 p.m.

MoCo Moms Demand Action to Meet in Chevy Chase

The Montgomery County chapter of Moms Demand Action is hosting a meeting on Saturday April 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Chevy Chase Library. Learn the Tools to Talk about Gun Violence Prevention Anywhere and Everywhere and get a legislative update and plan for the group's Wear Orange weekend. Moms Demand Action will also collect diapers, baby shampoo and toothbrushes for families experiencing crisis from domestic violence who use the services of the MoCo Family Justice Center. Details and RSVP here.

Maryland DOT to Hold Workshops on Road Widening Plans

Earlier this year, the Maryland Department of Transportation announced plans to move forward with a proposal to construct toll lanes on I-270 and I-495 (the so-called "Lexus Lanes"), dropping consideration of mass transit options supported by many residents and advocacy groups. M-DOT will hold a series of public workshops to describe its latest plans, including three in Montgomery County:

  • Saturday April 13 from 10 a.m. to noon, at Thomas W. Pyle Middle School in Bethesda;
  • Wednesday April 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring; and
  • Thursday April 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Thomas Wootton High School in Rockville.

Each session will have two formal presentations by MDOT officials, as well as opportunities to ask questions before or after the presentation.

Check the Citizens Against Beltway Expansion and Don't Widen I-270 web sites for more information on how you can make your concerns known.

BCC Breakfast Club to Host Freshman State Delegates

Meet with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Democratic Breakfast Club on Monday April 15 at 7:30 a.m. at The Original Pancake House at 7703 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda. Speakers will be state delegates Sara Love (D16), Emily Shetty (D18) and Jared Solomon (D18), who will give their perspectives on the 2019 Maryland General Assembly, which has its last day on April 8.

Immigration Team Gathers for Monthly Meetings

Ready to advocate for more just immigration policies and help increase voting engagement among local immigrant communities? Join the DTMG MoCo immigration team, which meets on the last Sunday of each month in private homes. Email kavitasethuraman@hotmail.com or info@dothemostgoodmoco.org for the address of our next meeting, Sunday April 28 from 4 to 6 p.m.


For updated information between our Action Update newsletters, please check our website at www.dothemostgoodmoco.org.