Hi Friend,

Valentine's Day may have come and gone, but we love celebrating the big-hearted DoTheMostGood Montgomery County activists who continue to advocate for improvements to our community's schools, health care, environment and immigration policies. The Maryland General Assembly legislative session runs through early April. That means now is a great time to weigh in on key policy issues. Please sign up for events and take actions below to support legislation that will do the most good for our state.

Spotlight Event

Sign up now for DTMG March 9 MoCo Transportation Policy Forum

Our next forum will focus on transportation policy at the state and county level on Saturday March 9 from 10 a.m. to noon at Newport Mill Middle School in Kensington. We'll discuss everything from Lexus lanes to Bus Rapid Transit and Metro. Speakers include Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker, Chairman of the Transportation and Environment Committee; Maryland Delegate Vaughn Stewart (D19); Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth; Susan Swift, Executive Director,Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance; and Neil Harris, Gaithersburg City Councilman. Sign up here.


Take Legislative Action for Maryland

DTMG has identified more than two dozen priority bills we are working to help pass this legislative session. You can help make this happen 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. Make sure you give your name and address so they'll know you're a constituent, and please identify that you're with DoTheMostGood Montgomery County. For details on some of the bills requiring action now, check our website under our 2019 Maryland Legislative Session page.

Health Care

Here are four health-related bills that DTMG supports. Take action now!

  • Prescription Drug Affordability Board (HB0768/SB0759): This bill would create a board to set price caps for expensive drugs. A hearing is scheduled for March 6 in Annapolis. DTMG has filed testimony with the Maryland Senate Finance Committee in support of this bill. You can read the testimony here.
  • Maryland Health Insurance Option, Protect Maryland Health Care Act of 2019 (HB0814/SB0802): This bill allows the state to enact a penalty for those who choose not to get Health coverage in Maryland (restoring the individual mandate) and uses the penalty money to fund low-cost insurance.
  • Health Insurance - Individual Market Stabilization - Provider Fee (HB0258/SB0239): This bill taxes helps ensure insurance companies are taxed and that those taxes help lower the cost of insurance in Maryland.
  • Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Site Program (HB0139/SB0135): This bill helps reduce overdose deaths and the transmission of infectious disease by establishing safe places where people already addicted to drugs can self-administer.

On February 14, we joined with the Healthcare for All Coalition and the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative for Prescription Drug Affordability Advocacy Day in Annapolis. We met with legislators, learned more about the status of legislation and activism on this issue and advocated with key legislators for prescription drug affordability.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh stopped by to support our team, and we attended a press conference where leaders of faith communities and individuals shared stores about the consequences of unaffordable medications.


ELECTIONS & VOTING

Get on Board with Ranked Choice Voting!

On Friday February 8 the Montgomery County House delegation voted unanimously in favor of MC 29-19 to enable Ranked Choice Voting for the county. The new bill, Montgomery County Voting Methods MC 29-19 (HB 0624), would enable Montgomery County to study the feasibility of alternative voting systems and, if it decides to proceed, to implement Ranked Choice Voting for certain elections in Montgomery County, including County Executive and County Council. A hearing is scheduled for HB 0624 today, February 19, at 1 p.m. (DTMG has submitted testimony in support.) It's not too late to contact your delegates on this and other election bills. Click here to take action.

In addition to Ranked Choice Voting, DTMG supports several bills this session designed to make voting more accessible to more people.
  • Election Law - Permanent Absentee Ballot List (HB 0119/SB 0333)
  • 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 you call or send emails to your delegates asking them to support these important immigrant protection bills. Find up-to-date information on our website’s Maryland Legislation page.

  • Correctional Facilities and Policies Officers -- Procedures aka Maryland Trust Act (HB 0913 and SB 0817): This bill prohibits correctional facilities from detaining a person beyond a certain date or notifying federal immigration authorities, meant to strengthen formal and informal social control through community organizations, and thus reducing crime. Hearing for SB 0817 set for February 21; hearing for HB 0913 is set for March 5.
  • Higher Education -- Tuition Rates Exemptions aka Dream Act (SB 0537 and HB 0262): Would allow Maryland in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants whose parent or legal guardian has filed a Maryland state tax return. A hearing for SB0537 is set for February 20.
  • Victims and Witnesses - Nonimmigrant Status - Certification of Victim Helpfulness aka U Visa Act (SB 0144 and HB 0214): This bill would help provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who report and help solve crimes, including domestic violence, and help our undocumented residents feel safe and to report crimes in our community. A hearing on HB 0214 is scheduled for March 5.

Transportation

Concerned about Governor Hogan's plans to forge ahead with adding toll "Lexus Lanes" to 1-270 and the Beltway? Follow this legislation and find up-to-date information on our website’s Maryland Legislation page.
  • HB 0695 and SB 0788: This bill would require a draft environmental impact statement before Hogan could move forward with plans to add toll lanes to I-270 and the Beltway. A hearing on SB 0788 is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 1 p.m.
  • HB 0102 and SB 0442: This bill would expand to all counties the ability to prohibit the construction of toll roads, highways or bridges, such as Hogan's Lexus Lanes, without the consent of the majority of counties affected. Eastern Shore counties already have this right. A hearing on SB 0442 is scheduled for Wednesday February 27 at 1 p.m. in Annapolis.


environment

Use your voice to protect the environment. Call or email your delegates and urge them to support the following bills. Find up-to-date information on our website’s Maryland Legislation page.

  • The Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB1158/SB516): This bill would require Maryland to get 50 percent of its energy from clean renewable sources by 2035 and to develop by 2025 a plan to get to 100 percent by 2040. A hearing on SB516 is scheduled for March 5 at 1 p.m., and a hearing on HB1158 is scheduled for March 8.
  • Environment - Expanded Polystyrene Food Service Products - Prohibition (HB009/SB285) would ban the sale of polystyrene food packaging starting in January 2020.
  • Pesticides - Use of Chlorpyrifos - Prohibition (HB275/SB270) would ban the use of the toxic pesticide Chlorpyrifos. A hearing on SB270 is scheduled for Wednesday February 27 at 1 p.m.
  • You can also support three proposed amendments to the Forest Conservation Act that are now in front of the Maryland General Assembly if you sign this petition from Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake:
    • Redefine "No Net Loss" of Forests (HB120/SB203)
    • Fee in Lieu Adjustment (HB272/SB234)
    • Task Force Bill (HB735/SB729)

EDucation

Last Tuesday in Annapolis, our Strong Schools Maryland group met with Delegate Anne Kaiser (D14), the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over education policy. We discussed the need to fully fund the Kirwan Commission recommendations to substantially enhance funding for public education.

Wearing our red Strong Schools Maryland shirts, we also visited the offices of many state senators and delegates, handing out a card with facts demonstrating the need for increased funding. Strong Schools MD hands out a different card to legislators during each visit.

If you couldn't join us on February 12, you can still advocate with Strong Schools Maryland. Organizers are in Annapolis every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the legislative session. Sign up here



EPA Wants to Ease Regulations on CO2 Emissions: Please Oppose

Following an extension on its deadline, comments are now due March 18 on an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to roll back regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. Use the "comment here" button on the top of the page for the proposed regulation and voice your opposition.

Tell Your Story to Advocate for Prescription Drug Affordability in MD

To help policymakers understand the scope of the prescription drug affordability crisis, Maryland advocacy group Health Care for All is taking stories of Maryland residents who have been burdened by rising prescription drug costs. To share your story, visit this link.

Our Education Forum Drew an Enthusiastic Crowd

On February 9 in Kensington, DTMG held our Education Forum: What's Next for Maryland Schools. Thanks to all who contributed to our robust conversation, including our guest speakers and presenters Rich Madaleno, Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget Director; Delegate Jared Solomon (D18); Karla Silvestre, Montomery County School Board (At Large); and Joe Francaviglia, Director of Partnerships, Strong Schools Maryland.

Everyone gained a better appreciation of the challenges facing the state and local governments in implementing the Kirwan Commission Report policy recommendations and the appropriate role of the state and local governments in education policy. Please check our website for session handouts and actions you can take.

Help Refugee/Asylum Seekers with Rides or Donations

DTMG is working 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, or Lyft rides.

The group is also collecting items for welcome bags for newly-arriving refugees:

  • Adult travelers will receive socks, gloves, hats, towels, tissues, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, deodorant, combs, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
  • Volunteer greeters will offer travelers these add-on items as needed: Water; menstrual care items; boxes of chocolate milk; bags of children's socks (small, medium, large or newborn); children's toothbrushes; kids' journals, coloring books, and crayons; diapers of various sizes; travel-size tissue packs; children's and adults' coats in various sizes; kids' hats and gloves; and travel-ready food (apple sauce, Goldfish crackers, protein bars, and fruit snacks).
  • To donate, please contact Gwen Stewart at gwenatsumner@gmail.com.

Upcoming Events

County to Host Forums on Education Budget
Along with several colleagues, Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice will hold five public education budget forums in February and March. All forums start at 6:30 p.m. and will be held:
  • Wednesday February 20 at Neelsville Middle School in Germantown;
  • Wednesday February 27 at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School in Silver Spring;
  • Wednesday March 6 at Rockville High School in Rockville;
  • Wednesday 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.

Montgomery Council's Transit Town Hall to Highlight Metro Improvements

The Montgomery County Council's Transportation and Environment Committee is hosting a Metro Town Hall on Thursday February 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building at 1 Veterans Place. MoCo Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Evan Glass will host representatives of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, who will discuss service improvements to Metro's Red Line.

Maryland Sierra Club Plans Lobby Night in Annapolis

The Maryland Sierra Club is holding a lobby night in support of environmental legislation, such as promoting the move to clean energy, next Monday, February 25, from 4 to 9 p.m. in Annapolis. Register here

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake Holding Forest Lobby Day

In support of several environmental bills before the Maryland General Assembly, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake will hold a Forest Lobby Day in Annapolis on Wednesday February 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sign up here.

Join Chevy Chase Democratic Breakfast Club & Guest Marc Elrich

The Chevy Chase Democratic Breakfast Club is hosting Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich at its monthly breakfast club meeting on Monday March 4 from 7:15 to 9 a.m. at the Original Pancake House, 7700 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda.

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.