It’s been a fast-paced three months, but the Maryland General Assembly concluded it’s 2017 session this week with a string of progressive victories in no small part due to Progressive Maryland’s organizing efforts. Here’s a rundown of major policy victories:
Paid Sick Days
After five years of organizing and advocacy, a statewide paid sick leave bill was passed and is being sent to the governor’s desk. It’s now up to the governor to decide if he will play politics with workers’ health by issuing a veto he knows will be overridden next session.
Resisting the Trump Agenda
Thanks to the hard the work of a coalition of progressive organizations and ingenuity on behalf of the Progressive Maryland board, the state’s attorney general now has independent authority to take the Trump Administration to court over its unconstitutional executive orders.
Fight for $15
Our members fought hard to kill a Democrat-sponsored preemption bill that would have stripped authority from local jurisdictions from raising their own minimum wage. The bill’s introduction generated hundreds of calls from Progressive Maryland members and this exchange between one our Montgomery County chapter members and the bill sponsor.
The bill came in the midst of local Fight for $15 campaigns in Montgomery County and Baltimore City, ultimately failing to leave committee. We also kicked off a strong Maryland for $15 campaign which will unite local fights for a higher minimum wage in Maryland’s population centers while building momentum in rural jurisdictions.
Criminal Justice Reform
Progressive Maryland continued fighting for criminal justice reform. Following passage of an omnibus police accountability bill in the 2016 session, those standing to benefit the most from the carceral state attempted to cement their financial interests in state law. Members successfully defeated a bill sponsored by the bail bond industry that would have increased the number of Marylanders jailed while awaiting trial. Current law prohibits this practice when defendants are not considered a risk to public safety.
Student Loan Refinancing
A Montgomery County bill requiring state approval passed through the General Assembly and will allow the county to establish a Student Loan Refinancing Authority. This is an important development that will give Montgomery County students and recent graduates the option to refinance their federal loans through the county, potentially saving thousands of dollars. The bill aims to attract young professionals to the county who may otherwise be priced out due to student loan debt. I testified in support of the legislation before the Montgomery County delegation prior to the 2016 legislative session.