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    The Case for Todd Nock

    “As a local community leader and as an educator, Todd Nock has worked to improve the lives of Pocomoke residents his entire life.  Councilmember Todd Nock is deeply rooted in Pocomoke’s vibrant community and committed to bettering the lives of the families who call the city home. Councilmember Nock’s work to reach across the political divide and build consensus with people of all backgrounds has resulted in him being selected to serve as Vice President of the Pocomoke Town Council and the District Vice President representing District 1 at the Maryland Municipal League. Since being elected the youngest representative to the council in City history, Councilmember Nock has brought the community together to address racial injustices, improved community safety, and has improved the city’s economic conditions. These achievements show exactly why Councilman Nock is in a good position to be reelected on 4/6. I have seen the enormous good Councilmember Nock has done for his community first hand, and I look forward to continuing our shared work on behalf of the working people of Pocomoke.” – LSPC Chair Jared Schablein 

    No description available.

     

    During his first term in office, Councilmember Nock is already fulfilling promises and working hard for Pocomoke. As an educator, son, and community leader with deep roots in Pocomoke, Councilmember Nock has spent his career listening to and helping solve problems with hundreds of constituents and their families from Pocomoke and across the entire Lower Shore. 

    Since being elected to the City Council, He has brought that same dedication and understanding to his work in City government, hosting and participating in events across the district and championing legislation to bring the community together to address racial injustices, creating a safer community, and improving the economic conditions of the city.  

     

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  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0581 / SB0846

    TESTIMONY FOR HB0581 / SB0846: Maryland Essential Workers' Protection Act

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Davis

    Committee: Economic Matters

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein, LSPC Chair  

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0581 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    A large segment of the membership of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus is essential workers.  Our members work in healthcare, retail, food, poultry, and many of the industries most at risk due to Covid-19.  Despite being called “heroes” by many, almost every single one of them has come to us with a horror story about unsafe conditions or subpar pay for their work, keeping everything going during the pandemic. 

    Since March 2020, there have been over 333,000 positive cases, nearly 6,700 deaths, and roughly 25,000 people hospitalized in Maryland.   These stats are made even more concerning to us on the Eastern Shore with the release of the CDC study that found Rural Americans are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because we are typically older than non-rural populations, have higher rates of underlying chronic disease even after adjusting for age, and often have a lower standard of care than Urban areas.  These numbers are more than just numbers, it is drastically affecting our rural way of life and is causing many of our members and their families to face daily levels of extreme stress due to the risk of catching covid and dying from it. 

    To make matters worse, many of our workers are forced to use their personal leave or go unpaid when they are quarantining or mourning a family member's loss. This reality is cruel and entirely preventable. No working person in Maryland from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland and everywhere in between can afford to go without pay for weeks to be in quarantine or mourn family loss. This legislative body must require employers to provide 14 days of paid quarantine leave and three days of paid bereavement leave to help workers cope with their financial and health burdens.

    Another issue that has arisen from this pandemic is that many of our frontline workers are struggling to make it financially. If calling our frontline workers “heroes” is more than just a performative gesture to make ourselves feel better, then we must ensure that employers pay their workers who are risking both their own and their family’s lives fairly during this pandemic.  

    To ensure that frontline workers are paid fairly, the state must mandate hazard pay for workers on the frontlines during this health emergency. Hazard pay of $3/hour will compensate workers for the harsh conditions they are working in and will help them take care of their families during the financial crisis we find ourselves in.  In addition to regular pay, this hazard paid should also be given for shifts worked during the State of Emergency.

    Finally, the state should allow employees to enroll in insurance through Maryland’s Health Benefits Exchange to ensure they get the health care they need. Doing this will help workers and their families and slow the spread of the coronavirus by keeping workers healthy and on the job.

    The Maryland Essential Workers Protection Act is a common-sense bill that would not only help our workers survive the finance and health crisis we face now but also help our state better prepare for the next crisis.  For that reason, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus urges legislators to stand with workers by supporting this bill and giving it a FAVORABLE report in committee.

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  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0638

    HB638 Public Safety - Untraceable and Undetectable Firearms

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Lesley Lopez

    Committee: Judiciary

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Dr. Nicole Hollywood, LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB638 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    State and federal gun laws traditionally apply to fully assembled firearms and the part of the gun that includes the firing mechanism, also known as the receiver. These laws typically do not apply to “unfinished” frames or receivers, also known as “80% receivers”. These nearly completed firearms are known as ghost guns. A ghost gun is, simply put, a self-assembled firearm made from either 3D printed components or building blocks easily acquired from the World Wide Web or from individuals in the form of DIY gun kits. These building blocks are readily available and unregulated and are not produced by a federally licensed manufacturer or importer.

    The mounting threat of ghost guns is the most eminent gun safety problem in the United States. Unregulated, not serialized, and often undetectable by a magnetometer, ghost guns present an easy means for prohibited purchasers to evade gun laws and access firearms.

    The threat of ghost guns is rising rapidly. By early 2020, reports indicated that more than 40% of guns involved in criminal activity that were recovered by the ATF were ghost guns and those number are only increasing. For example, in Baltimore, the number of ghost guns retrieved by police tripled from 2019 to 2020. 

    When guns are recovered from a crime scene the serial number is used to engage in tracing. During this process a firearm is traced through the chain of custody to the point of its first retail sale. According to the National Tracing Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (2019) 450,000 trace requests were processed in 2019 and more than seven million traces have been conducted since 1988. Ghost guns however, are untraceable and because they are untraceable they are now the firearms of choice for organized gangs.

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus recognizes the dangers posed by ghost guns. HB638 would alter the definition of a regulated firearm to include a certain unfinished frame or receiver, authorize a person to continue to possess these firearms after January 2022 provided they are marked with a unique serial number, prohibit a person from acquiring new ghost guns after January 2022, and establish penalties for violation.

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

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  • TESTIMONY FOR HB0151

    TESTIMONY FOR HB 151

    Bill Sponsor: Delegate Acevero

    Committee: Judiciary

    Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting: Sam Harvey

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB 151 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive Movement.

    Caucus members consistently support legislation that speaks to the belief that a civil society cannot exist unless all its members are equally governed and protected by a system of laws. The task of refining these laws, toward a more perfect justice system, must never be set aside.

    In some areas, Maryland may be admired by other states, in others... perhaps it better serves as a cautionary tale. Home to one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, in Baltimore, Maryland as a result has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation. A border state that only narrowly approved abolition, Maryland continues to languish near the bottom quarter on equality in jailing (non-Hispanic whites compared to other groups).

    No system of justice will bring back Bethlehem Steel. However, it could well be argued that the hammer stroke fell harder on many of Baltimore's communities because residents there had only just begun to climb the rungs of the economic ladder. For many, those rungs have only continued to rust.

    A sense of injustice – of inequity – pervades, a sense that a larger system charges ahead along its own path, heedless of damage it does to the blameless members of society trampled underfoot. That law enforcement officers have their own Bill of Rights, ostentatiously separate from the enshrined rights afforded to ordinary citizens, immediately chafes. It's quite possible its very existence roughly tears away at bandages over wounds that, in many communities, have never healed.

    Meritorious in its conception, a Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights (LEOBoR), in many of its parts fairly safeguards the rights of law enforcement officers under investigation of wrongdoing. However, the very existence of an LEOBoR can't help but feed into the sense of inequity, when it appears to convey extra considerations – considerations not afforded to the average citizen.

    Maryland law enforcement has come some way toward recognizing this grievance, modifying the LEOBoR in recent years – for instance, by expanding the statute of limitations on police brutality from 90 days to 366 days. However, current law may be deemed so deferential that interrogation protocol calls nothing so much to mind as an old home week. That the officer goes into interrogation having been introduced to everyone, having been given some background, some work history… that the interrogation will be conducted, whenever possible, at a reasonable hour, “preferably when the law enforcement officer is on duty” – nothing in this is definitively inappropriate, and yet everything in it strikes a sour note. It aggrieves, and in doing so the LEOBoR inadvertently undermines law enforcement’s core mission.

    No dichotomous relationship will attain – all the charm of the chivalrous guard, all the honor of the selfless sheepdog notwithstanding – if it is to be done successfully, public safety must be done by especially, emphatically, normal members of the public. Surely the LEOBoR was created with the intention of giving law enforcement professionals a reasonable sense of security, recognizing that the work they do will not always win them popularity contests. Unfortunately, no amount of tweaking the LEOBoR will dispel the perception that it establishes a system that treats law enforcement officers differently – or worse, that it grants a certain superiority. Only a repeal of the LEOBoR can address this – and only thereby can the community’s trust be revived, and public safety most fully realized.

    Therefore, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

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  • TESTIMONY FOR SBOO48 / HB0231

    SB46 Crimes - Mitigation - Race, Color, National Origin, Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation

    Bill Sponsor: Senator Clarence Lam

    Committee: Judiciary

    Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    Person Submitting:  Dr. Nicole Hollywood, LSPC   

    Position: FAVORABLE

    I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB46 on behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. The Caucus is a political and activist organization on the Eastern Shore, unaffiliated with any political party, committed to empowering working people by building a Progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore. 

    Research shows that one out of five lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or pansexual individuals living in the United States will experience a hate crime in their lifetime. The rate is even higher for transgender individuals where one in four will be a victim of hate. Further, the FBI reports that anti-LGBTQ bias attacks have been steadily on the rise in recent years.

    The LGBTQ+ panic defense is a legal strategy where a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is blamed for causing a state of violent temporary insanity that resulted in a plaintiff committing an assault or murder. In these instances, a judge and jury are asked to consider the LGBTQ+ “panic” to be a mitigating factor that lessens the severity and culpability of a violent criminal act. 

    Despite all the progress that has occurred in Maryland to drive equality forward, the LGBTQ+ panic defense remains a valid legal strategy. Meanwhile, 11 states and the District of Columbia have recognized that the LGBTQ+ panic defense is outdated, insensitive, and unconscionable and formally banned its practice through the passage of legislation. It is time for Maryland to follow suit and show reverence for the lives of all residents.

    SB46 would end the panic defense as a strategy to mitigate violent crimes during criminal proceedings and extend that definition to include race, color, and national origin. It would send a powerful message to all Marylanders that homophobia, transphobia, racism, and xenophobia are inexcusable and have no home in the Free State.

    The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.

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