Now that spring is in the air, it's time to take advantage of the longer days and nicer weather by getting out and supporting the causes we all care about. And right now, you can do that at the county, state and national level.
With only three weeks left in the Maryland General Assembly legislative session, your voice is needed in Annapolis now on key policy issues. See how to take action below and at our website.
Learn Harassment De-escalation Techniques at Bystander Training
Recent news of domestic terrorist acts and hate crimes on the rise can make us feel powerless, but there are steps all of us can take to become a force for good. Join the District 17 Democratic Club and DoTheMostGood MoCo at a Bystander Intervention Training session led by the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition on Saturday March 30 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Rachel Carson Elementary School in Gaithersburg. Learn how to stick up for people in your community when you witness harassment. Register here.
Take Legislative Action for Maryland
Do your part to help our priority bills this 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 Sessionpage on our website for contact info on the Montgomery County delegation and details on bills needing action now.
Your Voice Is Needed Now:
Tell Your Legislators They MUST Fully Fund Our Schools
The Blueprint for Maryland's Future (HB 1413/SB 1030) released earlier this month provides the mechanisms to transform Maryland's pre-K through 12th grade education system into one of the highest-performing systems in the country. Committee hearings have been held in both chambers, and this week the General Assembly will make final decisions about the funding to be required in this legislation. DoTheMostGood, along with many other activist groups aligned with Strong Schools Maryland, urges that anything less than full funding as called for by the Kirwan Commission is unacceptable.
We are asking all our members to use the easy tool on the Strong Schools Maryland website to send emails to all your state officials. Not only is it easy, but it will amplify the voice of Strong Schools Maryland, the leading advocacy organization on this issue.
Last Monday thousands of educators, students, parents, activists and public officials rallied in front of the State House in Annapolis to support equitable and adequate funding for all Maryland schools.
We're making progress on legislation that protects the environment. Thanks to all of you who helped support this ban on polystyrene food service products, which has passed in both the Maryland House and Senate and will go to the governor:
Environment - Expanded Polystyrene Food Service Products - Prohibition (HB 0009/SB 0285) will ban the sale of Styrofoam take-out food packaging in all of Maryland starting in January 2020.
We've also seen partial success on:
Pesticides - Use of Chlorpyrifos - Prohibition (HB 0275 / SB 0270) to ban the use of the toxin in Maryland. The pesticide kills bees that pollinate our crops, and it can contaminate our food. The House approved the bill with amendments. The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing February 27 but did not issue a report. As the Senate considers the amended version that passed the House, we must encourage them to make a favorable recommendation to bring it to the Senator floor, so please contact your Senator.
We're also closely following
The Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 1158/SB 0516). The Senate issued a favorable report on SB 0516 on March 15. The House Economic Matters Committee held a hearing March 8, and a vote for an unfavorable recommendation failed on March 13. The Economic Matters Committee will now consider the bill that passed in the Senate. We can support the CEJA by calling or emailing House Speaker Mike Busch, Economic Matters Committee Chair Dereck Davis (D25), and members of the Committee that voted against CEJA last week [Delegate Eric Bromwell (D8), Delegate CT Wilson (D28), Delegate Ned Carey (D31), and Delegate Talmadge Branch (D45)].
Transportation oversight can have a major impact on our environment. At our March 9th DTMG Forum: 21st Century Transportation Solutions hosted by former D15 Delegate Aruna Miller, panelists had spirited discussions over two transportation oversight bills pending in the General Assembly.
Click here for full coverage of the event, including videos, a recap with key takeaways and links to DTMG testimony on these key bills:
The Transportation Climate Accountability Act (HB 0695/SB 0788) supports requiring a draft environmental impact on transportation projects.
Toll Roads, Highways, and Bridges - County Government Consent Requirement (HB 0102/SB 0442) supports requiring the consent of the majority of counties affected before the construction of toll roads, highways or bridges.
Prescription Drug Affordability Board: HB 0768 / SB 0759 (read our testimony here), would help make all high-cost prescription drugs more affordable for Marylanders. We need this because the high cost of prescription drugs is making it difficult for us to afford necessary medications and is driving up the cost of our health insurance premiums. Please contact members of the House Health and Government Operations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and ask them to support the bill in its entirety, including the Boards' essential authority to set upper payment limits for high-cost prescription drugs.
Maryland Health Insurance Option, Protect Maryland Health Care Act of 2019: HB 0814/SB 0802 (read our testimony here) will help protect the progress made with over 400,000 Marylanders gaining access to health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Such progress is in danger because of a federal decision not to enforce the individual mandate. SB 0802 / HB 0814 will help over 130,000 more Marylanders get the coverage they need. The House approved an amended bill earlier this month. Please contact members of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
Montgomery County Voting Methods MC 29-19 (HB 0624) would enable Montgomery County to employ Ranked Choice Voting in certain county elections. You can read DTMG's testimony here.
Yesterday, March 18, was the crossover deadline for bills to advance. Let's make sure this bill moves to summer study. Send a message to the Ways & Means committee TODAY. Go to https://rcvformaryland.com/raise-your-voices/ to urge members of the Ways & Means committee to move HB 0624 to summer study.
HB 0624 would:
Empower voter choice and eliminate the strategic voting that leads to voting for "the lesser of two evils."
Uphold majority rule and elect candidates preferred by a majority of people.
Spur innovation by allowing (but not mandating) new voting methods for local elections.
Correctional Facilities and Policies Officers -- Procedures (Maryland Trust Act) (HB 0913 and SB 0817). Read our testimony here and reach out to thank Maryland Senator Susan C. Lee for her continued support of this bill.
Victims and Witnesses - U Nonimmigrant Status - Certification of Victim Helpfulness (HB 0214 / SB 0144. ) The House has approved this bill, but it has not yet come to the Senate floor, so please contact your Senator.
Higher Education - Tuition Rates - Exemptions (Dream Act) (HB 0262 / SB 0537) The Senate has approved this bill. The House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing today, March 19, so please contact your delegates.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, towels, tissues, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and personal care and hygiene items such as deodorant, combs, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
To donate, please contact Gwen Stewart at email@example.com.
Campaign Financing in Spotlight at County Meeting
The Montgomery County Council will hold a public forum on Montgomery County's campaign financing program on Tuesday March 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. If you cannot attend in person, you can stream the forum via video here. Public financing helped create a paradigm shift in Montgomery County elections in 2018, and we expect a lively exchange of views. If you want to speak, register to testify here by 10 a.m. on March 26.
Attend County Council's Forum on Education Budget
Along with several colleagues, Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice will hold the last of several public education budget forums on Wednesday March 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Montgomery College in Takoma Park (Cultural Arts Center Theater 1). For more information, email Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov. or call 240-777-7955.
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 perspective on the 2019 Maryland General Assembly, which has its last day on April 8.
Maryland DOT to Hold Workshops on Road Widening Plans
Earlier this month, the Maryland Department of Transportation signaled plans to move forward with a proposal to construct toll roads on I-270 and I-495 (the so-called "Lexus Lanes") and recommending against several "screened alternatives" backed by concerned constituents. M-DOT announced a series of public workshopson 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.