Hi Friend,

In these last few weeks of winter, things are starting to heat up. Thanks to new Democratic leadership, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken action to investigate campaign violations and presidential overreach, to advance voting rights, and to strengthen background checks for gun purchases. That's why elections matter, even during the midterms, and why we continue to encourage your activism and engagement.

The Maryland General Assembly legislative session is in full swing in Annapolis. With only five weeks left, now is when your voice can really make a difference on key policy issues. See how to take action below.

Spotlight Event

Join Us This Saturday for Our Transportation Policy Forum

Upset about 270/495 expansion? Wonder what BRT's all about? How about the Purple Line? Bike lanes? Wonder what you can do about it? Start by joining us at DoTheMostGood's March 9 forum. 21st Century Transportation Solutions will bring together advocates and legislators who are all working hard to address these challenges. Bring your questions and concerns to Newport Mill Middle School in Kensington this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Portions of the event will be live-streamed on Facebook @dothemostgoodmoco.

  • Moderator:
  • Aruna Miller, former D15 state delegate and MoCo transportation engineer
  • Speakers:
  • MoCo Councilmember Tom Hucker, Chairman of the Transportation and Environment Committee
  • Maryland Delegate Vaughn Stewart (D19), Environment & Transportation Committee
  • Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Susan Swift, Executive Director, Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance
  • Neil Harris, Gaithersburg City Councilman

SIGN UP HERE

Take Legislative Action for Maryland

DTMG is supporting more than two dozen priority bills this legislative session. Do your part to help 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.


Health Care

Take action on the healthcare bills that DTMG supports. Select the links below to read our testimony on these bills.


  • Health Insurance - Consumer Protections: HB 0697 here and for SB 0868 here. A hearing for SB 0868 is scheduled for March 13.
  • Prescription Drug Affordability Board: B 0768 here and for SB 0759 here. Hearings for both the House and Senate bills are scheduled for March 6.
  • Maryland Health Insurance Option, Protect Maryland Health Care Act of 2019:  SB 0802 here. A hearing is scheduled for March 6.  
  • Health Insurance - Individual Market Stabilization - Provider Fee (HB 0258/SB 0239): Read our testimony here.

ELECTIONS & VOTING

DTMG supports several bills this session designed to make voting more accessible to more people, including one supporting Ranked Choice Voting.

Montgomery County Voting Methods MC 29-19 (HB 0624) would enable Montgomery County to employ Ranked Choice Voting in certain county elections. It is awaiting a committee vote in order to reach the floor and be cross-filed in the Senate. You can read DTMG's testimony here.

Election Law - Permanent Absentee Ballot List (HB 0119/SB 0333), one of the bills we were supporting, failed to make it out of committee and will not receive further consideration this session.

There is no immediate action at press time on the following bills, but check our website for updates on:

  • Election Law - References to Absentee Voting in Public Communications - Voting by Mail (HB 0332/SB 0606)
  • Ballot Access - Voter Registration - Affiliating with a Party (HB 0530/SB 0489)
  • Election Law - Registration and Voting Precinct Polling Places (HB 0286)

Immigration

Please call or email your delegates asking them to support these important immigrant protection bills.

  • Correctional Facilities and Policies Officers -- Procedures (Maryland Trust Act) (HB 0913 and SB 0817). A hearing for HB 0913 is set for March 5. Read our testimony here.
  • Victims and Witnesses - Nonimmigrant Status - Certification of Victim Helpfulness aka U Visa Act (SB 0144 and HB 0214) has a hearing on HB 0214 on March 5.
  • Higher Education -- Tuition Rates Exemptions (Dream Act) (SB 0537 and HB 0262).


CASA official Julio Murillo and volunteer members of the Trust Act Coalition met in Rockville on February 28 with Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass to advocate for the Trust Act.

Transportation

Concerned about Governor Hogan's plans to forge ahead with adding toll "Lexus Lanes" to 1-270 and the Beltway? Refer to the Transportation Action Post on our website for up-to-date information on both these bills. Select the links below to read our testimony.

  • The Transportation Climate Accountability Act (HB 0695/SB 0788). Read our testimony here in support of requiring a draft environmental impact on transportation projects.
  • Toll Roads, Highways, and Bridges - County Government Consent Requirement (HB 0102/SB 0442). Read our testimony here in support of requiring the consent of the majority of counties affected before the construction of toll roads, highways or bridges.

environment

Take action on these bills to protect the environment that DTMG supports:

The Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 1158/SB 0516). A hearing on SB 0516 is scheduled for March 5 (you can read our testimony here), and a hearing on HB 1158 is scheduled for March 8.

  • Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Eligible Sources (No Cash for Trash): and (HB 0961/SB 0548). This bill removes taxpayer incentives for burning trash to make electricity in Maryland. There is a hearing for SB 0548 March 5. Read testimony for HB 0961 here and for SB 0584 here.
  • Environment - Water Quality Certifications (Pipeline and Water Protection Act of 2019) (HB 0669/SB 0387). A hearing on HB 0669 is scheduled for March 7.
  • Pesticides - Use of Chlorpyrifos - Prohibition (HB 0275/SB 0270) would ban the use of the toxic pesticide Chlorpyrifos. Read our testimony here.
  • Environment - Expanded Polystyrene Food Service Products - Prohibition (HB 0009/SB 0285) would ban the sale of Styrofoam take-out food packaging in all of Maryland starting in January 2020. This bill has passed the House, so it's time to call your Senators to support SB 0285.
  • Natural Resources - State and Local Forest Conservation Funds (HB 0120/SB 0234) strengthens the requirement for plans to mitigate deforestation and use of state and local forest conservation funds.

DTMG also supports three proposed amendments to the Forest Conservation Act that are now in front of the Maryland General Assembly if you sign a petition from the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake:

  • Task Force Bill (HB 0735/SB 0729)
  • Fee in Lieu Adjustment (HB 0272/SB 0234)
  • Redefine "No Net Loss" of Forests (HB 0120/SB 0203)

EDUCATION

The long-anticipated Kirwan Commission bills came before the Rules Committee this week:

The Blueprint for Maryland's Future (HB 1413/SB 1300) would transform Maryland's early childhood, primary and secondary education system to the levels of high-performing systems around the world. A hearing for SB 1300 is scheduled for Wednesday March 6. Check our website for updates and actions.


March For Our Schools Next Week In Annapolis

Strong Schools Maryland and other grass roots advocacy groups will hold a rally on Monday March 11 at 6 p.m. in front of the State House in Annapolis to support equitable and adequate funding for all Maryland schools. RSVP here. And you can join organizers with Strong Schools Maryland in Annapolis any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday through March 28. Sign up here.


Kirwan Commission Releases 2019 Interim Report

We encourage you to read the 2019 Interim Report from The Kirwan Commission (more formally The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education), which serves as a guide to a world-class education for every student in Maryland. Read a two-page summary here or find a link to the complete report here. Recommendations include early childhood education, strengthening and diversifying the teaching workforce, preparing high schoolers for college and careers, providing resources to at-risk students, and offering more accountability.

Learn Harassment De-escalation Techniques At Bystander Training

The District 17 Democratic Club and DTMG MoCo are sponsoring a Bystander Interactive 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 the folks in your community who face harassment. Register here.

Watch the Video from Last Month's Education Forum

On February 9 DTMG held our Education Forum: What's Next for Maryland Schools with guest speakers and presenters Rich Madaleno, Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget Director; Delegate Jared Solomon (D18); Karla Silvestre, Montgomery County School Board (At Large); and Joe Francaviglia, Director of Partnerships, Strong Schools Maryland. You can watch a video of the event here.

Click here for follow-up actions you can take.

Listen to Town Hall on School Diversity and Boundaries in MCPS

WAMU 88.5's Kojo Nnamdi held a Kojo Roadshow Town Hall on School Diversity in Montgomery County on February 26 at the Civic Building in Silver Spring. The discussion centered on Montgomery County Public Schools' plans to embark upon a boundary study on facility use and school diversity to adjust to ongoing growth and demographic change within the county. The Kojo Nnamdi Show aired the recorded discussion on Thursday February 28. Listen here.

Stop the Clear Cutting of Prime Forest to Build Solar Farm

Send comments by March 13 to the Maryland Department of Environment and ask them to deny a plan by Georgetown University and MD Solar 1 to clear-cut a high-value forest in Charles County, Md., so they can build a solar farm, as doing so thwarts efforts to strengthen the Forest Conservation Act and puts the local environment at risk. Ask MDE to find better places for a solar farm. Send comments to MDE at Jeffery.Thompson@maryland.gov. And if you're a Georgetown alum, consider contacting the university administration directly.

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, 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 gwenatsumner@gmail.com.

Upcoming Events

Woman's Democratic Club to Shine Light on Women's Health Disparities

Join WDC on Wednesday March 6 for a discussion forum on Health Disparities and Other Inequities Among Montgomery County Women, held at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Find more info and registration here.

County to Host Forums on Education Budget

Along with several colleagues, Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice will hold three more public education budget forums this month. All forums start at 6:30 p.m. and will be held:

  • Wednesday March 6 at Rockville High School in Rockville;
  • Monday March 11 at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda;
  • Wednesday March 27 at Montgomery College in Takoma Park (Cultural Arts Center Theater 1)

For more information, email Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov. or call 240-777-7955.

Attend Community Conversation on Raciy Equity and Social Justice

Join Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Nancy Navarro Wednesday March 13 at 7:30 p.m. for a conversation on racial equity and social justice at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Find more info and register here.

Canvass for Special State Senate Election in Suburban Pittsburgh

Join DC-area activists and 31st Street Swing Left for a weekend of voter canvassing Saturday March 16 and Sunday March 17 in western Pennsylvania. Support Pam Iovino, a strong Democrat running for a state senate seat in an April 2nd special election. Carpooling and accommodations with volunteers available. Sign up here.

Commission on Aging to Hold Public Forum on Diversity

Interested in the challenges facing older adults who identify with various racial, ethnic or LGBTQ communities? Join the Commission on Aging for a public forum on Tuesday March 19 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building at 1 Veterans Place in Silver Spring. County Executive Marc Elrich will share opening remarks on his vision for a more inclusive county, followed by a panel discussion, expert speakers, and break-out sessions. To register, email Tremayne.jones@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-1262.

Woman's Democratic Club to Host Trone at Luncheon

Join WDC and Congressman David Trone (MD-6) at a luncheon on Wednesday March 20 at noon at Normandie Farm in Potomac. Register and purchase tickets here by March 15.

Maryland DOT to Hold Workshops on Road Widening Plans

Earlier this month, the Maryland Department of Transportation signaled plans to move forward with plans for constructing 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 workshops on 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

Check the Citizens Against Beltway Expansion web site for more information on how you can make your concerns known.

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