A rebuke to MD-01 Rep. Andy Harris

May 2, 2020
Congressman Andy Harris, M.D.
2334 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Representative Harris,
          Here we are May 2020; Let me start by saying that your behavior on 05/02/2020 was reckless.  This COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-growing tragedy.  Being as though you are a physician, I would honestly expect more from you. (I am not sure why) YOU are a disgrace to every single elected official across this state. Governor Hogan has set measures in place to protect the citizens of Maryland, and you do not care. Let me explain something to you, opening this state will KILL us! How dare you take part in a rally to reopen the state, you’re not dependable! 
          As of yesterday, we had 1,730 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the state of Maryland.  I realize even with the stern guidelines; this state is becoming more ill by the day. I have so much more to say, but you will not care. YOU ARE AN IDIOT! There have been many instances where we needed your help, and you did not show up. However, you did today; you showed up in a big way.
         Back in 2011, I met you at the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake; I remember it like it was yesterday.  My boss encouraged me to stay away from you, yet I still took a picture with you.  I did not understand at the time why Jim did not like you.  Over the years, I have grown to understand.  In March 2019, The National League of cities set up a meeting with you and I.  When I showed up to your office, they treated me like a second-class citizen. THEN you never met with me.  I was extremely disappointed, I thought you would want to interact with officials from the Eastern Shore.
         You are not concerned with the well-being of Marylanders; you are concerned with life-risking labor.  YOU are corrupt, and WE WANT YOU TO STAY AWAY FROM THE EASTERN SHORE, just like you normally do. 
Todd J. Nock
District 4 Council Member
City of Pocomoke City

The Voice of Stability during Covid-19: Salisbury's Mayor Jacob Day

The Voice of Stability during Covid-19: Salisbury's Mayor Jacob Day

The outbreak of Covid-19 has caused significant stress on all aspects of life. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and struggle to operate what many would consider a healthy daily life. In addition to new daily stressors is the anxiety that comes from trying to figure out how we will continue to pay bills and avoid getting sick during these trying times. While millions struggle, the federal government has failed to put forth any meaningful response to provide aid to working-class people or slow the spread of this deadly disease.

Fortunately for us here on the Lower Eastern Shore, we have had a voice of stability and guidance in Mayor Jacob Day of Salisbury. Since this outbreak started, Mayor Day continues to relay crucial information that we need to stay safe and flatten the curve and to answer questions asked by the community via a daily video briefing on Facebook live.

Mayor Day has worked around the clock with our state and federal representatives to address things such as getting relief aid for our communities and ensuring constituents still get the state and federal resources they need.

Finally, Mayor Day has stepped up by implementing an emergency declaration to fight the spread of Covid-19 here. His orders include:

  • limiting the number of occupants who can be in retail or commercial facilities at one time;
  • prohibiting all self-serve foods and product sampling;
  • ensuring that cleaning guidelines set by the CDC and MDH are followed;
  • requiring a minimum of six feet of distance in lines, outside and inside stores; and
  • establishing 1 to 2 exclusive hours per day for high-risk populations, such as senior citizens and other high risk populations.

These measures will establish the conditions needed to reduce the spread of the disease and help keep the community safe. While the world around us exhibits instability and chaos due to the Covid-19 outbreak, it is reassuring to know that our community is taking action to fight this disease, and that we have the stability to overcome this all from calm leadership of Mayor Jacob Day.

Written by Jared Schablein

Chair of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus


On migrant workers in Maryland

     Just past midnight on a Saturday morning twenty-eight year old Melva Guadalupe Vázquez of Ciudad del Maíz, México wakes up to her phone alarm in a cramped bedroom she shares with five other women in Woolford, Maryland on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. She puts on her work uniform, which despite washing still reeks of crabs, and heads out into the darkness to walk a quarter-mile to Lindy’s Seafood, where the graveyard shift is due to begin at 2 a.m. A half hour later she is part of a team of a dozen women on the picking line as crabs are wheeled in on a huge dolly and put in piles on a long, stainless steel table. Vázquez puts on her fingerless blue gloves, picks up a crab and cracks the shell. She then quickly maneuvers her two small knives to extract the meat and puts it into a small plastic container labeled #9. A supervisor will record how much she has produced during the shift, so she works fast, deshelling roughly two crabs per minute. No one speaks while working. Spanish music plays on one of the women's iPhone. Most of them spend the time thinking of their children back home. At 7 a.m. Vázquez takes an hour for lunch, when she puts a Band-Aid on a self-inflicted cut to a finger on her right hand, which burns painfully from the salt. She works another 4 hours for a total of 10 -- there are a lot of crabs to process that day. Now it’s 1 p.m., and exhausted she walks back home in the bright midday sun. She is looking forward to tomorrow, Sunday, the one day she usually gets off, when she plans to attend church and do grocery shopping.

                                       *                                                        *                                                            *

     Like the Jim Crow laws of the 19th century that enforced racial segregation in the U.S., there are ways in which our modern day temporary immigrant visa system resembles the historical institution of slavery. There are differences of course. Workers come to America of their own free will, and they are in principle afforded equal protection under the law, both in the workplace and as visitors to our country. For instance, they are entitled to enroll in the ACA if they choose while they are here. However, they are effectively segregated from the general population and take up the kind of low-paying, manual labor that occurs out of the sight and mind of most people. They are also subjected to not-so-subtle forms of racial discrimination that is inspired these days directly from Washington. “A lot of the Hispanic people are afraid of going to certain stores because there are some people who look at them disapprovingly,” said Margarita Marquez, an outreach worker. “But they know how to avoid those situations.”

 

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TESTIMONY FOR SB0701 Maryland Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End of Life Option Act

TESTIMONY FOR SB0701

                                             Maryland Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End of Life Option Act 

Bill Sponsor: Senator Waldstreicher

Committee: Judicial Proceedings

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:   Marie Velong 

Position: FAVORABLE

Honorable Committee Members: 

On behalf of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus, I am writing today in support of the Richard E Israel and Roger "Pip" Moyer Maryland End of Life Option Act to authorize medical aid in dying in our state. I would strongly encourage the committee to vote for this compassionate option that would allow a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live, the choice to receive a prescription for self-ingested medication enabling a peaceful, pain-free death. 

In my 72 years of life, I have helped many of my pets to achieve a pain-free death because of the pain they were currently in. When I had to watch my husband, mother and other people I cared about die in so much pain, I could not understand why we can show so much compassion to our animals and not the people we love. Even convicts on death row get more consideration. We should at least have the option for a better death. People choose when and how they will give birth, why can't they choose when and how they themselves can leave this earth? 

By supporting the Maryland End of Life Option Act, I hope my home state is the next to join eight states and the District of Columbia in authorizing medical aid in dying. Thank you for representing me, The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and others in this state. I truly hope you will vote  Favorable on this bill that is so vitally important to me and our organization.


Updates from the legislative committee

Recap of legislative committee activities:

We started out the season with a two-meeting review of a substantial list of legislative items the LSPC and the Maryland Legislative Coalition had supported in the last session, and narrowed in on six items from that list that the committee would make top priorities. 

One item, an idea for a bill that would help young people with disabilities transition into the workforce, never made it onto paper this session. In retrospect, we could have encouraged one of our representatives to pick up the ball on this one, or I guess we could have submitted draft legislation – not sure how that works - but we waited too long, and will have to revisit this next session. 

The remaining five are 

  1.  Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education
  2.  Single Payer Healthcare
  3.  Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, moratorium on the Eastern Shore
  4.  End of Life Act
  5.  Correctional Facilities and Police Officers – Immigration status

 

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TESTIMONY FOR SB0228 Commission on Universal Health Care

TESTIMONY FOR SB0228

                                             Commission on Universal Health Care

Bill Sponsor: Senator Pinsky 

Committee: Finance 

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Jared Schablein,  Chair of the LSPC   

Position: FAVORABLE

 

I am submitting this testimony in favor of SB0228 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. 

Since our organization's creation the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus and our members have been strong supporters of efforts to move our nation towards a Single- Payer Healthcare System that provides quality healthcare to all.  SB0228 would allow our state to lead the nation by giving us the opportunity to join the rest of the industrialized world by transitioning our current system to a Single Payer system in the most efficient and cost-effective manner to ensure all Marylanders have quality healthcare.  

SB0228 would accomplish the first step by creating and funding a commission to collect the information needed to create a plan so that Maryland can join the rest of the industrialized world by implementing a Single Payer Healthcare System and ensuring that it provides quality healthcare to all Marylanders.  

SB 0228 also allows us to become the nation’s leader when it comes to healthcare by showing us the way to innovate and lead in the same way that waryland did with the hospital system. This commission will also show the people of Maryland that their legislators are committed to lowering the costs for healthcare,  providing more coverage for things like mental health and dental, and ensuring that all Marylanders have health insurance. 

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

 


TESTIMONY FOR SB1000 The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

TESTIMONY FOR SB1000

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

Bill Sponsor: President Ferguson

Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:  Karen Smith, Communications Co-Chair of the LSPC and Somerset County Educator   

Position: FAVORABLE

In 2009, Maryland public schools were ranked #1 in the nation by three separate, independent studies. This ranking held true until 2013. Sadly, this is not the standard any longer. In 2019, Maryland’s schools were ranked 4th in the nation by Education Week.

 

The Kirwan Commission and the Blueprint for Maryland’s future has become a hotly contested issue among legislators, educators, and taxpayers. Most would agree--if only in theory--that prioritizing education is necessary for the future of a healthy economy and quality of life of Marylanders. The aim of this very comprehensive bill is to increase funding for universal pre-K, special education, teacher training, concentration of poverty grants, and teacher salaries, to name only a few priorities of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

 

While many of those who argue against the bill do so because they say the cost is too high, we at the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus would argue that the cost of not funding the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations is too high. Underprepared teachers cannot hope to prepare students fully. Teacher-education programs are not attracting students. Local universities such as UMES and Salisbury University have few students enrolled in teacher preparatory programs. And why, once certificated, would they choose to stay locally and earn less for doing the same job?

 

 

 

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TESTIMONY FOR HB0561 ELECTRIC INDUSTRY – COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY

TESTIMONY FOR HB0561

ELECTRIC INDUSTRY – COMMUNITY CHOICE ENERGY

Bill Sponsor: Delegate Charkoudian

Committee: Economic Matters

Organization Submitting:   Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Person Submitting:   

Position: FAVORABLE

 

I am submitting this testimony in favor of HB0561 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 designed to protect, and improve, air and water quality, and legislation that recognizes the status quo for energy production no longer meets our needs – climate change is upon us. Inasmuch as HB 0561 promotes renewable energy, it satisfies these environmental priorities. The bill also shows potential for lowering energy costs for many customers, by giving county and local governments the ability to aggregate larger pools, and concomitantly negotiate for the same savings high demand (bulk) customers enjoy. 

Evidence shows low-income households pursuing lower energy costs have taken a huge hit from bad actors in the third-party supply industry. HB 0561 can reverse that damage, and in doing so not only encourage but enable those same households to participate in supporting renewable energy sources. It may be there is an as yet unrecognized, deep, reservoir of interest in renewable energy whose light the practicalities of life have hitherto kept hidden under a bushel. 

HB 0561 requires no subsidy, although it is certainly arguable that  aggregation would be worthy of subsidy for its economic justice benefits alone, not to mention its potential environmental benefits. However, the bill leaves these judgments entirely up to customers, with an opt-out provision. The caucus anticipates that a majority of customers will find county and local aggregation plans a good fit, both economically and with an eye toward stewardship of the Earth. 

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


Call to Action in Wicomico County

We at the LSPC strongly encourage you to take the same path as Mr. Ben Rayne has and contact the 3 county council members listed below in an effort to garner attention to accurate information regarding the legality of proposed actions, as well as to let your elected officials know exactly what the citizens of Wicomico County desire regarding the proposed restrictions on consumption of medical cannabis within our county. 

Letters, emails, and phone calls are wonderful ways to let county council members know the wishes of the community they serve.

 

Wicomico County Council

125 N. Division Street, Room 301

Salisbury MD 21801

Dear Mr. Cannon, Mr. McCain, Mr. Davis:

My name is Ben Rayne and I have lived in Wicomico County my entire life, save for a brief 6-month period during which I lived in Dorchester, after which I came bounding back to Wicomico.

I am writing the three of you today in protest of Sheriff Lewis and SA Dykes proposal to increase the severity of punishment with regards to public use of cannabis. I myself am a registered patient with the MMCC and I can’t begin to tell you the life changing benefits of legal cannabis use for the treatment of certain medical conditions from which I have suffered from most of my life. I am bipolar, I have ADHD, I suffer from PTSD, I have a panic/anxiety disorder, and I am on the autism spectrum. In case you were unaware, these are not curable conditions, only treatable with therapy and medication. Medical cannabis has helped me overcome much of the anxiety of daily life that had left me unable to work after a series of traumatic moments in my life.

But even if we forgo the usual anecdotes about how much good this plant is facilitating, we can find massive faults in the arguments put forth by Sheriff Lewis and SA Dykes. Their entire plan hinges upon something known as preemption. Preemption is a legal concept that sets forth the idea in strong State Government models, like The State of Maryland is set forth in its constitution, that when the State passes a law, that law is THE law of the land. No local laws may be made that supersede the State or Federal Government’s authority.

 

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The Racial Impact of Marijuana Laws

One aspect of making additional marijuana laws that is often overlooked in rural, or less urban areas is the racial impact they have on society. The enforcement of marijuana laws generates some of the justice system’s starkest racial disparities. “The War on Marijuana in Black and White,” a landmark report from the ACLU, details the staggering racial bias and financial waste of our country’s counterproductive fight against a drug widely considered less harmful than alcohol. The excuse that marijuana is a gateway drug is a widely debunked theory. *In the United States, between 2001 and 2010, a black person was almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person was, despite approximately equal rates of use. That needs to be repeated... despite approximately equal rates of use. In some states and counties, blacks are 8, 10, or even 15 times more likely to be arrested, mainly because of the concentration of law enforcement in lower income or poor areas. Lower income people, regardless of ethnicity, are more likely to be financially devastated by the disparate enforcement of such laws. They are less likely to afford bail. That, in turn means that someone living from paycheck to paycheck who cannot afford to pay a small bail faces losing employment, housing, even their families as they wait the average 3 months of incarceration before even having a court hearing. The main purpose of bail is to ensure appearance in court and protect society. Not many people would argue that the average marijuana users are dangerous. However, holding someone on bail has another unlawful purpose; revenue. One of the reasons that some in law enforcement favor the laws are just for that reason; to continue the revenue flow from incarceration. Many jurisdictions depend on that revenue as a large portion of their budget. That is wrong. That is not how our justice system should work. *Marijuana Law Reform ACLU

Submitted by Gerald Hampton, a Wicomico County Resident