TESTIMONY FOR SB0178

TESTIMONY FOR SB 178

Bill Sponsor: Senator Carter

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 178 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 builds toward a more perfect justice system, and legislation that promotes the highest level of transparency possible, toward the greater ability of the people to review the ways its government operates.

Following the tragic death of Anton Black, on September 15, 2018, his family and friends sought for ways to change the system, to prevent tragedies like the one they and so many others had suffered, from befalling others. They sought a requirement that law enforcement should release information about any investigations into incidents like this, and that law enforcement should release information about any prior complaints against the involved officers. 

There is some risk that the release of prior complaints could lead to a diminution of the investigated officers' rights to due process, as these incidents could be “tried in the media” once their records are made public. SB 178 effectively safeguards against this risk, granting the custodian the ability to deny inspection if it would “deprive another person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication.” This seems just – the civil rights of one party must not be sacrificed to advance the civil rights of another.

However, the degree of risk that the civil rights of law enforcement officers may be diminished, must be set against the absolute certainty that all of Anton Black's civil rights were entirely extinguished at age 19, and that is the most important issue and the one we must remain focused on.

That Anton Black's family and friends had to wait, and wait, for answers – that was cruel and unnecessary (and when those answers finally came, they only confirmed what many had pessimistically suspected).  The system that rehired an officer who'd been fired from a different department, who had a record of being physically abusive to a suspect in custody, is not likely to change unless the people are given these records in the very instants following the occurrence of these tragedies. Without this information, all arguments seem strictly emotional, and therefore carry less weight. It could be argued that the emotional pain of grieving families should provide sufficient pressure to affect changes in policy, but in this world it takes cold, hard facts.

These family members and friends should have this information immediately – not months and months later. It's already too much to ask that they should bear the responsibility for pressuring the system into changing, but we must face the harsh reality that the system hasn't changed, and it appears unlikely that it ever will, without that kind of public pressure. To apply this pressure in an effort to continually improve our justice system is in the best keeping with our democratic ideals, and this bill provides the necessary tools for that work. I urge you to support SB 178.

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


TESTIMONY FOR SB0190

Firearms – Right to Purchase, Possess, and Carry – Use of Medical Cannabis

Bill Sponsor: Senator Hough 

Committee: Judicial Proceedings

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein,  Chair of the LSPC   

Position: FAVORABLE

I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB0190 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. It is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members to legalize Marijuana and protect the rights of those who choose to smoke it.  That is why our organization strongly supports SB0190.  

Our current law that prohibits users of medical cannabis from their second amendment rights is nothing short of unconstitutional and discriminatory. By prohibiting individuals from purchasing, possessing, and carrying a firearm solely because they are prescribed medical cannabis puts our residents into a horrible dilemma.  A dilemma where they must choose whether or not they will keep their second amendment rights or take medicine prescribed to them by a doctor to treat whatever health issues they might be facing.  When in reality they shouldn’t have to choose at all.  

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

 


TESTIMONY FOR HB0285

Workgroup on Statewide Vehicle Crash Data Collection and Reporting

Bill Sponsor: Delegate Lewis 

Committee: Environment and Transportation

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein,  Chair of the LSPC   

Position: FAVORABLE

I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0285 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. It is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members to improve transportation safety in our state.  HB0285 is a common-sense bill that would help achieve this crucial goal that can save lives.   

Establishing a workgroup on statewide vehicle crash data collection and reporting is the first major step to creating a safer Maryland in terms of transportation.  This bill sets up the proper outlines for the workgroup to have the ability to effectively examine the processes used to collect and report statewide vehicle crash data for injuries and fatalities.  HB0285 would also allow the state to determine the most effective manner for the State to begin to collect, disaggregate, and report the data by race and ethnicity filling a major need in order to craft effective policy recommendations. 

It is through these outlines that the workgroup will be able to make effective policy recommendations to address major issues on or before the December 1, 2021 deadline this bill sets.  

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


TESTIMONY FOR HB0155

County Boards and Public and Nonpublic Prekindergarten Programs and Schools - Discrimination - Prohibition

Bill Sponsor: Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins

Committee: Ways and Means 

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Dr. Nicole Hollywood, LSPC   

Position: FAVORABLE

I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB155 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 recognizes that there are insufficient protections for, and inequities in the treatment of, LGBTQIA+ learners enrolled in Maryland schools. The result of these injustices contributes to a climate that is unsupportive, and even often hostile, to LGBTQIA+ youth. Research conducted on LGBTQIA+ youth in schools has found that an unsupportive educational climate contributes to lower academic performance, lower GPA, increased absences, increased likelihood of school dropout, and less likelihood of attending an institution of higher education.

HB155 would codify anti-discrimination protections for all students, pre-k through 12 who are enrolled in our public schools and in any other schools receiving public funding.  It also prohibits retaliation against a student or guardian who files a discrimination complaint, establishes a remedy process to resolve discriminatory action, and requires schools and school Boards to develop written policies for students and employees regarding civil rights protections.  Ultimately, this legislation seeks to codify existing MSDE guidance and prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

HB155 is a major step forward to ensuring the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ youth enrolled in Maryland’s schools.

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


TESTIMONY FOR HB0001

Historically Black Colleges and Universities - Funding

Bill Sponsor: Delegate Adrienne Jones 

Committee: Appropriations 

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Dr. Nicole Hollywood, LSPC   

Position: FAVORABLE

I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB1 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 recognizes the significance that HBCU’s play in Maryland, and in our country. Founded during a time of hostility and forced segregation, for over 100 years Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been unique American institutions predicated on providing educational opportunities to students many of whom originate from historically underserved communities. While they account for only 3% of public and not-for-profit private institutions receiving federal student aid, they enroll 10% of African American college students nationwide, produce 17% of the bachelor’s degrees earned by African Americans, 24% of the degrees earned by African Americans in science, technology, engineering and math, and are the top producers of African American Ph.Ds. Serving as critical access points to post-secondary education for many Black and first-generation students, the preponderance of research has found HBCUs to provide deeply supportive educational environments that are unparalleled elsewhere with Black graduates of HBCUs more likely than Black graduates of majority serving institutions to be thriving. 

More than a decade ago, four Maryland HBCU’s, including one on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, joined together in a lawsuit to remedy longstanding racial disparities and funding inequities. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake ruled that Maryland had maintained a dual and segregated education system and had grossly underfunded HBCUs for decades.

HB1 will send a strong message to the people of Maryland that the State values its Historically Black College’s and Universities and is committed to ensuring their future by establishing a new unit to assist in evaluating proposals for new programs and substantial modifications of existing programs, creating an HBCU reserve fund, and dedicating $577,000,000 in the State budget in fiscal years 2023 through 2032 towards the settlement.


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


TESTIMONY FOR SB 71

TESTIMONY FOR SB 71

Bill Sponsor: Senator Sydnor

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 71 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 aspires to deliver perfect justice, as elusive a pursuit as that may seem. I write to you in the hope that you’ll support SB 71 this session.

Men and women in law enforcement are subjected to extreme stress in the line of duty, which has a profound impact on them, psychologically and physiologically. This is widely recognized – indeed, law enforcement training especially takes it into account. The ability to continue to perform their duties while experiencing a cascade of instinctual physical responses – elevated heart rate, increased respiration, surging adrenaline – is impressive. 


However, while law enforcement training hardens officers, to make them capable of performing under these extremes, they are not superhuman. These conditions have an impact on their own health, both physical and mental. And, while concerned for their well-being, I also have grave concerns regarding their ability not only to successfully perform their duties at 100 percent under these conditions, but even their ability to 100 percent accurately report what happened, after the heat of the moment.

It’s not a justice to anyone, neither the law enforcement officers nor the citizens they have interacted with, to ask those officers to recall what just happened, as the adrenaline washes away and the sweat dries on their skin. Neither party may be positioned to answer accurately, never mind objectively.

This is the great benefit of the body-worn camera, now a tiny and inexpensive tech. Safe to say, we all want to progress toward a more perfect administration of justice. The body cam is a great tool for capturing from an objective viewpoint everything that went right, but also everything that went wrong. We can take those lessons, double down on the good – and make improvements where improvements appear necessary.

The idea that anyone, no matter how extensively vetted, trained, and oath-taken they may be – that their testimony should receive preferential treatment, is problematic on its face. We with serious reservation allow it, in the name of social order, but it creates a very imperfect dynamic.

Law enforcement officers enjoy the aegis of rebuttable presumption (the presumption that their account is true unless someone comes forward to contest it and prove otherwise). However, to in the strongest terms encourage law enforcement toward the better way now available to us, SB 71 would create a special case in which citizens, rather than law enforcement officers, are granted a rebuttable presumption themselves. 

If officers can’t show some very good reason why they haven’t availed themselves of the body cam tech, now the civilian parties involved gain the rebuttable presumption that officers’ accounts (as they perceived them) of the unrecorded events should and will be inadmissible. 

I believe this places the greatest emphasis on the diligent and rigorous use of the body cam, and this seems entirely appropriate to me. I encourage you to support SB 71.

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




TESTIMONY FOR HB0074

Income Tax - Credit for Energy Efficiency Upgrades - Passive Houses

Bill Sponsor: Delegate Brooks

Committee: Ways and Means

Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting: Michaela Moses

Position: FAVORABLE

 

I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0074 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 recognize the dangers posed by climate change and the particular vulnerability of our state to its disastrous effects. HB0074 promotes climate change mitigation and incentivizes Marylanders to reduce their negative impact on the environment with energy efficient upgrades to their homes. Adding insulation, replacing windows, weather stripping, and other updates mentioned by this bill can significantly increase a building’s energy efficiency, thus decreasing energy consumption and reliance on unclean energy sources.

 

In addition to reducing energy consumption, energy efficiency can also reduce costs. Using less energy per household also means paying less and easing the fiscal burden felt by working class households who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy. In fact, some passive houses or energy-efficient buildings can achieve net zero or even net positive emissions, meaning the building’s presence can actually create an environmental benefit. Owners of net zero or net positive homes pay far less for energy than other homeowners and are also protected from rising energy costs.

 

Passing HB0074 allows Maryland to renew their commitment to energy efficiency and build upon existing environmental programs by incentivizing homeowners to update their homes. With the looming threat of climate change, the state of Maryland must remain on the forefront of innovation and equitable climate policy that prioritizes mitigation and efficiency. The adoption of passive house principles and other energy efficiency solutions recommended in HB0074 means a cleaner, safer state for all. 

 

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


TESTIMONY FOR HB0391

Solid Waste Management – Prohibition on Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere

Bill Sponsor: Delegate Hartman 

Committee: Environment and Transportation

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein,  Chair of the LSPC   

Position: FAVORABLE

I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0391 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. It is a top priority of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members to protect the environment and support legislation that would protect our pristine environment for generations to come. HB0391 is a bi-partisan common-sense bill that would better protect the environment from unnecessary pollution and trash.   

Balloons, on average, take six months to 4 years to fully decompose.   Once released into the atmosphere, they can wreak havoc on the environment for long periods. Once the balloon falls back into the environment, its waste poses a risk for wildlife in two significant ways. The first way is being ingested by wild animals attracted to the color, ribbons, and tassels. Eating the balloon is often a death sentence for the animal.  The second way it poses a risk to wildlife is the balloon waste forming the perfect trap for animals to become entangled.  Once entangled, the animal is often trapped until it dies or continues to live with extreme discomfort and limited mobility.

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


A Progressive Love Letter to Somerset County

So I have been reading Obama's The Audacity of Hope.

Based on what is going on right now, I'm having a hard time seeing where the hope fits in. From what I can glean from history, once LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 this pissed off a whole segment of our country (the white supremacist God, guns & country segment) who had previously supported the New Deal vision of fair wages and benefits, patronage and public works, and an ever-rising standard of living for Americans. Suddenly, this segment of America decided that the New Deal vision of fair wages and benefits, patronage and public works, and an ever-rising standard of living should be for only some Americans, not all Americans.

I live in an area where the majority of the population represent the God, guns & country vision of America, one where minority folks do not enjoy the same privileges as many, if not most, of their white counterparts. Although I vote and campaign for progressive ideals, I live in Trump country.

Interestingly enough, this area and specifically Somerset County, used to be economically successful and a bright spot in Maryland. Yet, decades of keeping certain people in charge, not adapting as the market changed, not allowing for new growth, calling people who migrated to the area 'Come Heres', and keeping things the same, has resulted in economic decline for Somerset County, specifically for Crisfield, MD. Many people in Crisfield have tried to bring new business, arts, tourism, etc. to the community. Over my 15 years living here, although there have been small successes, the community is still just hanging on.

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LSPC FYP Partnership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Seamus Benn

(443) 523-2195

bennseamus@gmail.com

https://www.lowershoreprogressives.com

http://www.fenixyouthproject.org/

 

Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and Fenix Youth Project Form Partnership To Better Serve the Lower Shore

SALISBURY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 -- The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and Fenix Youth Project are excited to announce that they will be forming a partnership to more constructively serve everyone, but more specifically, the youth, on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. This alignment will help strengthen youth activism and community organizing; advocate for criminal justice reform on a state and local level; and provide skills and opportunities to make legislative changes.

“As a fellow youth activist, it’s important to give back and provide resources to other youth activists to get their voices heard,” said 22 year-old Chair of LSPC, Jared Schablien. 

“We are in the middle of an uprising of young leaders and changemakers; as adults it’s our responsibility to prepare youth for the torch we must pass along to them,” said Amber Green, Executive Director of Fenix Youth Project. “This is our responsibility and I’m grateful that LSPC is willing to answer that call.” 

This new and remarkable partnership will:  

  • Strengthen youth activism and community organizing in the Lower Eastern Shore region by offering workshops, classes, and opportunities to organize effectively in the community.
  • Put young voices of the Lower Eastern Shore on the frontlines of advocating for criminal justice reform on a state and local level.
  • Provide skills and opportunities to make legislative changes on a local and state level. 

To get involved with either one of these organizations more information can be found at https://www.lowershoreprogressives.com and http://www.fenixyouthproject.org/.

 

 

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