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.


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.


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.


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.


TESTIMONY FOR SB0414 - Climate Solutions Now Act

TESTIMONY FOR SB0414

Bill Sponsor: Senator Pinsky

Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Sam Harvey

Position: FAVORABLE

 

I am submitting this testimony in favor of  SB 414 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 describes the courageousness of taking critically necessary action – including action that will require common sacrifice – in defiance of inertia and paralysis. The Climate Solutions Now Act is the kind of courageous, optimistic, sweeping policy that can encircle and address the monumental issue of climate change. 

We have a moral responsibility to our children, grandchildren, and future generations to address climate change. We must, at last, begin to provide responsible stewardship of the planet they will inherit. At a political impasse these past decades, evidence gathered in the scientific community has long since reached critical mass. An overwhelming majority of us can now accept that human activity is driving climate change. And while it does require courage at the beginning of a change, it has more and more become a matter of clear-eyed reason. Without question we all want to safeguard human civilization, preserve its wonders, and encourage its growth toward a more perfect and just society. There are extremely likely outcomes associated with doing nothing about climate change – that course of inaction can never lead to the realization of these objectives.

It's a matter of showing leadership when we consider a piece of legislation like the Climate Solutions Now Act here in Maryland. Every state has its splendors, but here perhaps more so than in other places our fortunes are tied to the natural world - the sea, the rivers, the Chesapeake Bay. Much of our local culture is defined by that attachment to the tidewater, and our local economies are dependent on it. For those reasons it's appropriate that we should take a lead role here – and then there's the fact that we're more exposed than most to sea level rise.

We've left it until late in the game, and so now we must act with some real ambition. The Climate Solutions Now Act seeks to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent (of 2006 levels) by 2030, and achieve net zero emissions by 2045. This was recommended by the community of climate scientists, as a way to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The seas will continue to rise for centuries to come, but by making a start now we can literally start to turn that tide.

This bill sets forth a broad, visionary approach to achieving this goal, through building green government buildings and public schools, supporting community solar, transitioning government fleets to alternative fuels, and planting five million trees (especially in under-served areas). And the Climate Solutions Now Act does it while considering how it will affect everyone caught up in the change. This is the hallmark of thoughtful, comprehensive, legislation.

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


TESTIMONY FOR SB0066

Department of Housing and Community Development – Office of Digital Inclusion – Established (Digital Connectivity Act of 2021)

Bill Sponsor: Senators Elfreth, Beidle, Eckardt, Griffith, Guzzone, Hester, Kelley, Patterson, Rosapepe, West, and Zucker 

Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting: Christina Hulslander

Position: FAVORABLE

 

I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB66 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.

The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and its members strongly recommend the approval of this bill to develop the Office of Digital Inclusion. It is necessary to focus resources, assess penetration, and create equitable access of broadband internet in Maryland, specifically in rural areas where it is lacking. Online resources have penetrated all aspects of modern living and provide economic, educational, cultural, healthcare, and entertainment opportunities that elevate quality of life. Broadband will be a boon to our rural communities – no one in this country should have to miss out on the advancement that accompanies Information Age technology.  On the contrary, folks in rural areas are most deserving of opportunities to continue to thrive where they are located, rather than abandon those areas simply to remain in a modernizing world.  Economic development for rural areas of Maryland requires reliable broadband service.  

Increasingly broadband offers access to technology that can optimize agricultural practices, pinpoint-targeting resource allocation. This can not only make an operation more environmentally sustainable, it maximizes yields and profits. 

Digital technologies advance rapidly. Estimates are that 90% of our current data use come from technologies that did not exist 2 years ago. Smart appliances and digital tools connect to the internet for energy efficiency, enhanced security and safety, and to monitor health variables.  No Maryland citizen should be deprived of opportunities that come with access to digital technologies. 

For these reasons, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE result in committee.


TESTIMONY FOR HB0355

Election Law - Registered Voter List Security and Electronic Signature Requirements for Petitions

Bill Sponsor: Delegate Sheila Ruth

Committee: Ways and Means  

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein, LSPC Chair    

Position: FAVORABLE

I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0355 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. 

Ensuring that all Marylanders can easily participate in our Democratic Process is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members. HB0355 is a common-sense bill that achieves this crucial goal in two major ways.   

The first way is by better securing vital information crucial to running our elections. The bill accomplishes this by requiring the State Board of Elections adopt regulations specifying requirements for the secure storage and use of voter data for copies of the registered voters list. 

The second way is by modernizing the State Board of Elections and their process. The bill accomplishes this by requiring the State Board to adopt regulations specifying procedures for the collection of electronic signatures on petitions.  By allowing the collection of electronic signatures for petitions we can ensure our State Board of Election and our Democratic Process is keeping with the times as well as make it easier for voters to be informed and involved in our elections.  

To put it simply allowing voters the ability to sign petitions electronically makes our system more accessible, more Democratic, and in step with the world we live in today based around technology. It is for these reasons the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.


TESTIMONY FOR HB0050

Landlord and Tenant - Residential Leases - Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2021)

Bill Sponsor: Delegate Steward

Committee: Environment and Transportation 

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein, LSPC Chair    

Position: FAVORABLE

I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0050 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. 

Protecting the rights of tenants and ensuring they don’t face abuse or get taken advantage of is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members. HB0050 is a common-sense bill that achieves this crucial goal.

The bill creates transparency between landlords and tenants on utilities by requiring a landlord to make a certain disclosure to prospective tenants if the landlord uses a ratio utility billing system. The bill also has a provision requiring landlords to provide tenants with information to document a bill for certain utilities. These requirements will make utilities more transparent and create conditions in which it is harder to take advantage of tenants.   

Another provision in this bill requires that a certain lease provision become unenforceable if a landlord fails to make a certain disclosure. Once again this would improve transparency and force landlords to be upfront with their tenants. This too will reduce the chances of tenants being taken advantage and put in bad situations by bad faith actors.    

Finally this bill would ensure that a tenant organization has the right of free assembly in certain areas within an apartment facility during reasonable hours and on reasonable notice to the landlord. This would enshrine and protect the rights of tenants in law. The ability to organize as tenants is crucial in ensuring their rights are protected and they have the power to improve their conditions and prevent any unfair situation from arising.   

 It is for these reasons the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus supports this bill and recommends a FAVORABLE report in committee.


TESTIMONY FOR SB0088

State and Local Government - Participation in Federal Immigration Enforcement

Bill Sponsor: Senator William Smith

Committee: Senate Judicial Proceedings

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Sam Harvey

Position: FAVORABLE

I am submitting this testimony in favor of  SB 88 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 directs local resources toward their most beneficial local uses, and SB 88 safeguards those resources from being improperly used for law enforcement that's more appropriately the bailiwick of federal immigration enforcement. Local law enforcement officers may be acting with the best intention of protecting their communities when they blur their traditional role of community policing, toward federal immigration enforcement – for instance, when they inquire about an individual's citizenship or immigration status during a traffic stop, or other arrest. However, best intention aside, they must recognize that if community members don't agree that this is the way they want law enforcement executed, in case of point how they want their law enforcement resources spent, then local law enforcement should and must recognize this fact.

It may be some will consider SB 88 a complication for law enforcement officers, an impediment to their ability to achieve their objectives. However, there is a ready counterargument – that people who are treated like neighbors are much more likely to behave like neighbors. And, as we emerge from a dark season of unreasonable animus toward the Other, of scapegoating, and of inhuman cruelty at our southern border, it will be most well when everyone takes a giant step toward treating each other as if we were indeed all members of the communities we all live in. First and last, to the best safety of our communities, we must be decent to one another. 

So, SB 88 insists on law enforcement of maximum effectiveness from a strictly pragmatic standpoint, based on the recognition that local resources are finite. It is not within the language of the bill to answer the strange contradiction that recent arrivals lending their labor to the building up of a place are lopsidedly blamed for every problem there – while they are simultaneously exploited and dehumanized. But the bill does suggest that people should not be harassed simply because the law, when read in a somewhat less than thoughtful way, can justify it. SB 88 derives from a different reading, and emphasizes a different approach to law enforcement – one that will ultimately help local officers more effectively keep their communities healthy and safe.

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