Successful "2011 Progressive Summit and Lobby Night" in Annapolis shows PWG's growing organizing strength and savvy
Eighty-four attendees, including 20 Maryland state legislators, and 64 members of 34 community organizations took part in a successful First Annual Progressive Summit and Lobby Night. The event was organized by the Progressive Working Group (PWG) in cooperation with Progressive Maryland.
It took place March 7th, 2011 at the Maryland General Assembly's House of Delegates in Annapolis.
In organizing the event, the PWG wanted legislators to know two things. First, progressive coalitions are getting bigger and more effective by the day. Second, progressives are united in their support for NINE priorities this session. The priorities are the same as those six that were deliberatively selected at the end of 2010 by PWG member organizations, plus 3 more highly actionable issues.
Community activists had the opportunity to meet with legislators face to face, thanking allies and identifying and persuading fence straddlers.
An explanation of the nine issues with associated bill numbers is presented below.
TRANSPARENCY AND EQUAL ACCESS IN GOVERNMENT (HB 766/SB 644) (HB 37/SB 740)
We need more transparency in the Maryland General Assembly, commissions, executive agencies and other deliberative bodies. An expanded Public Information Act will provide public access to electronic records in their original electronic form while the proposed Joint Committee on Transparency and Open Government would identify ways to enhance transparency and citizen access across state government.
COMBINED REPORTING (SB 305/HB 731)
Combined reporting will potentially generate $100 million or more per year in state revenue from large multi-state corporations that are not currently paying their fair share of corporate income taxes. Combined reporting treats the parent and its subsidiaries as a single corporation for state income tax purposes. At least 108 of the largest 120 multistate corporations doing business in Maryland also maintain a facility in at least one of the 23 states already having a combined reporting requirement. Switching to combined reporting will not be a big administrative burden. See: a) http://www.cbpp.org/files/11-9-10sfp.pdf b) https://progressivemaryland.org/public/documents/taxfairness/2011-3combi...
OFFSHORE WIND POWER (SB 861/HB 1054)
The current proposal for a moderate-sized wind farm (about 600 MW) would create thousands of Maryland jobs in construction, operations, and maintenance. It would power 79% of the homes and businesses on the Eastern Shore. Regulatory changes are needed to allow the project to proceed. In particular, the bill would require utilities to enter into long-term contracts for offshore wind power.
PUBLIC FINANCING OF CAMPAIGNS (SB 657/HB 159)
Introduced in the 2010 legislative session as the "The Clean Money Bill" , this measure would reduce the undue influence of special interest campaign contributors in the Maryland General Assembly by creating a voluntary, publicly-funded way to run for State Senate and Delegate. It would also enable Counties to establish their own public financing of County-level elections.
HEALTH SECURITY ACT (SB 388)
The proposed Health Security Act creates a single insurance pool and eliminates the variety of insurance companies that now offer coverage only to those insured through an employer or who can pay. Single-payer (Medicare-like) health care financing for Maryland will save money, help businesses and provide comprehensive health care for all Marylanders. See http://www.mdsinglepayer.org/
FUND OUR COMMUNITIES--BRING THE WAR DOLLARS HOME
Marylanders' contribution to the FY 2010 Pentagon budget was $13.65 billion. Meanwhile, the entire Maryland State budget was $13.9 billion. We need to redirect spending from the Pentagon to local communities. Senator Raskin, Delegate Hixson and 38 other legislators have all co-signed a letter to Maryland's representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress. The letter advocates national legislation to reduce the annual military budget by 25%, with savings to support state, local and community needs. See: http://ourfunds.org
MARYLAND DREAM ACT (SB 167/HB 470)
The In-State Tuition Bill, or the "Maryland DREAM Act," changes the requirements for students to be eligible for in-state tuition, thus making higher education more accessible. This bill is primarily intended to help children of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents at a very young age and have worked hard throughout their academic careers. See http://www.casademaryland.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&...
CIVIL MARRIAGE PROTECTION ACT (SB 116, HB 175)
The Civil Marriage Protection Act will end the exclusion of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples from marriage. See http://www.equalitymaryland.org/issues/marriage
CLEAN DRINKING WATER / ENVIRONMENTAL BILLS (HB 659, HB 660, HB 754)
Atrazine was banned by the European Union 5 years ago due to health risks. Traces of atrazine are regularly found in drinking water, so sustainable farmers, scientists and health advocates are pushing for similar precautions in HB 659. Another bill, HB 660 requires the Md. Department of Agriculture to adopt regulations for reporting on the use and sale of certain pesticides, including Atrazine. Better information will allow the state to make future decisions at minimal cost. Finally, HB 754 proposes to ban arsenic from chicken feed. Precaution is the central theme here, the state needs to move in that direction, now.