You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2010.

1. Upcoming Progressive Events–send complete info. about your event for possible inclusion in future reports
2. Progressive Working Group 4-25 Meeting: “2010 Maryland General Assembly, What Did It Accomplish?
3. Progressive Legislation–what passed, what didn’t.
4. Progressive Rotating Childcare
5. Montgomery County Progressive Alliance–What’s new with the MCPA?


1. Upcoming Progressive Events

– Monday, May 10th 7 pm — Montgomery County National Organization for Women Meeting Rockville Library, 21 Maryland Avenue, Rockville / We’ll discuss nomination of officers for next year and women’s issues to tackle now and in the future. All are invited. For more information, contact For directions to the Rockville Library:

– Wednesday, May 12th – 7-9 pm — Montgomery County Council At-Large Democratic Candidates Forum, Kensington Town Hall, 3710 Mitchell, St. Kensington Contact Ellie Kleinman 301-897-0868. Sponsored by several Democratic Party clubs.

– Sunday, May 16th 3:30 – 4:30pm — Roger Manno for State Senate Campaign Kick-Off! / Sole D’Italia Restaurant 14324 Layhill Road, Silver Spring, MD / Short bus ride from Glemont Metro Station (red line) Join community leaders, neighbors, friends and activists for Delegate Roger Manno’s 2010 campaign kickoff! RSVP: to or 301-598-4063.


2. Progressive Working Group 4-25 Meeting: Fifty-Five Progressive Activists, Elected Legislators Address  “2010 Maryland General Assembly, What Did It Accomplish?”

On Sunday April 25th, progressive activists from Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Howard Counties as well as the Baltimore area, gathered in Laurel for a Progressive Working Group forum to evaluate how progressive legislative priorities fared in the just-concluded legislative session and how we can make progress in the future. The focus was on why more was not achieved, given the overwhelming Democratic majority in Annapolis. Panelists were asked to address this failure and to offer recommendations on moving forward.

Panel One: Progressives Challenging Incumbents: Delegate Karen Montgomery, who is running for the State Senate against Rona Kramer in District 14 and Dana Beyer, who is running for delegate in District 18, both pointed out that in Maryland, the defeat of progressive legislation is often attributable to Democratic legislators who are, at best, moderates. Therefore, they said, progressives should hold candidates to a higher standard than just being Democratic. A participant from the audience stated that unless an elected representative or candidate supported campaign finance reform, they should not be considered a progressive.

Panel Two: What Went Wrong? Why Didn’t Good Bills Make It Through the General Assembly? Critical Insights of Legislators: Del. Roger Manno, Del Sheila Hixson, Senator Jamie Raskin, Senator Paul Pinksy, Senator David Harrington, Del. Karen Montgomery, Del. Tom Hucker Senator and Mike Lenett.

Lenett – Open government measures are very important. They give progressives more voice. We need procedural reforms so that we actually get votes on legislation. Currently, many measures are killed by putting them in “the drawer.” Legislators would pass more progressive bills if we could get a vote on the measures. We should consider changes that would make it harder to just put bills in the drawer, such as guaranteeing a committee vote on all bills filed by a certain deadline, allowing each legislator a minimum number of bills that must be guaranteed a committee vote, or a petition process to force a committee vote.

Manno – A big obstacle to progressive legislation is the quality of representatives we send to Annapolis. Our expectations are too low. We don’t need people who sometimes vote right but often don’t support us when no one is closely watching.

Hixson – Progressives should never quit. You must keep pushing for your issues and that includes talking to representatives who don’t agree with you.

Raskin – There are politicians who are interested in justice and there are politicians who are interested in power. We need to get the right kind of representatives elected and then organize to pressure them to do the right thing.

Pinsky – The state is an arbiter of class forces. On one side are the liquor lobby, the Chamber of Commerce, developers, etc. Next session, we need to assess our resources and pick issues very strategically that have a chance of winning. Combined reporting can pass next year if we work on it.

Harrington – Representatives are able to get away with things by calling themselves progressives. We need to check people carefully to see if they are willing to stand up for the right thing, even when it’s not popular and powerful interests are fighting us. As progressives, we also need to make tight arguments in favor of our measures so that the opposition sees that we’re serious and that it will be difficult to oppose us. And we need to stick with issues – sometimes it takes years to win.

Montgomery – On progressive health care bills, the biggest problem we faced was drug (pharmaceutical) companies. We need to chip away on our issues, even if it takes years to win a complete victory.

Hucker – The system is set up to defeat progressive legislation. To win, we need good ideas (a sound philosophy) a good sponsor for the legislation, careful attention to process (reaching out to opponents, seeing where compromises are necessary), hard work, and grass roots pressure. It’s easy to block reforms; to win everything has to go right.

Points Made in Discussion: Progress on abolishing the death penalty is also possible next session. We need to keep pushing for campaign finance reform. Mike Miller has been hot and cold on this and may not strongly oppose. It is frustrating to progressives that many bills get put in “the drawer” and never get a vote in committee.

Panel Three: What Failed? What Succeeded” Why? What’s to Be Done for Next Year? Prospective of Progressive Activists. Mike Hersh, PWG, Ryan O’Donnell, Common Cause; Sean Dobson, Progressive Maryland; Pat Elder, Peace Action Montgomery: David O’Leary, Sierra Club, and Ken Stevens

O’Donnell: It’s good that Progressive Working Group got its profile raised this session – I’m proud of that. But something is wrong in Annapolis when campaign finance reform doesn’t even come up for a vote, but a bill to impeach the Attorney General because of his opinion on gay marriage gets voted on. Nothing was really done this session on campaign finance reform. We need to work together even more closely on our legislation.

Elder: We scored a victory on ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) tests, but there are more peace issues we need to address. We won on ASVAB in part because we made it an issue of student privacy and civil rights, not solely an anti-war issue. Also, we were a real presence in Annapolis and talked to many legislators to explain the issue, including those who had been opposed to our legislation at first. We figured out a way to talk about privacy and civil rights issues and not just peace. We also worked with partners with more lobbying experience, and insiders helped us dissect the committees for problem areas.

Dobson – I have been lobbying for 10 years and it used to be worse. We got at least 7 good labor bills. But for the bluest state in the country, what happened in Annapolis is not good enough. The problem is still the State Senate which really operates as a ‘good old boy’ network. Miller is conservative but pragmatic so he will give us progressives a few things. In this year’s elections, we need to defeat conservatives. We should see how all progressive groups can come together around some candidates.

Stevens – We need to realize that we’re in a long-haul fight on many of our progressive issues, but we need to keep pushing even if we don’t make progress at first.

Hersh: We need to raise expectations and awareness of what’s going on in Annapolis. As Mike Tabor demonstrates, most people in Maryland don’t know who their state legislators are! We should work to change the culture in Annapolis by electing true progressives and by increasing public awareness about state issues. This would make good legislators better, and make mediocre legislators private citizens.

O’Leary – Environmental groups came in with a very limited agenda this session. We made some progress, but it was limited and even things that were pass were pared back. (See legislative wrap-up below). The press focused on divisions among environmental groups.

Discussion of Next Steps:
-We need a stronger Annapolis presence during the session.
-Clean water is a winnable issue that should be a priority
-We need to go door-to-door in the home districts of targeted conservative legislators, especially Senators, to challenge them on the issues.
-We need a scorecard to identify legislators who are undermining progressive legislation


3. Progressive Legislation–what passed, what didn’t. Thanks to Progressive Cheverly for most of this wrap-up.

Campaign Finance Reform for General Assembly Races – This measure would help neutralize the effect of special-interest money in our political process. Unfortunately, Senate President Mike Miller switched his support of a year ago, and the bill remained bottled up in Senate committee without even making it to the House for consideration.

Reducing the Impact of Budget Cuts Through Fair Revenue Sources – Combined reporting, which would close income-tax loopholes for corporations that operate in more than one state, was not passed. Likewise, the “millionaire’s tax,” enacted in 2008 and set to expire this year, was allowed to do so, effectively lowering taxes for the top 1% of Maryland taxpayers. Together, these lost revenues will amount to $250 million per year, and cuts to services for the disabled and poor were made instead.

Improved Transparency of General Assembly Business and Improved Citizen Access – A bill was not enacted that would make it easier for citizens to access information about the progress of legislation and present testimony during hearings and require such bill hearings and meetings of the Board of Public Works to be broadcast on the Internet. Instead, these concerns were relegated to a summer study. However, this legislative effort did prompt leaders in the House and Senate to require that all committee votes be posted online.

ASVAB – Legislation was passed that only students and their parents or guardians can release the results of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test to the the military. ASVAB is used as a military recruiting tool in public high schools throughout the country. Almost 7,000 students in 156 public schools throughout Maryland took the test in the last year for which data is available. 91% had the results and private information forwarded to military recruiting services without parental consent and often without parental knowledge. This legislation ends this practice and represents a real victory for student privacy from military recruiters.

Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers (BOAST) in Maryland Tax Credit – Progressives generally opposed this legislation that would have granted tax credits to businesses that fund scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools, which means primarily religious schools (which represent over 80% of all private school students*). The bill passed the Senate, but a revised version of the legislation was reported unfavorably out of the House Ways and Means Committee on the last day of the session so the legislation was not passed. .

Civil Marriage Equality and Transgender Anti-discrimination – In the middle of the session, Attorney General Doug Gansler issued an opinion that state agencies should begin recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states where they are legal. Legislative efforts to undo Gansler’s opinion were unsuccessful. The bill that would allow such marriages to be performed in Maryland did not pass, but it gained more co-sponsors. Transgender anti-discrimination legislation also remained stuck in Senate committee, but it, too, gained new co-sponsors. Additional legislation died that would have protected parenting rights and extended medical leave to siblings, grandparents and domestic partners.

Environmental Justice and Environmental Protection – Protecting the green infrastructure budget: There were some important gains, especially considering the budget constraints that pervaded this legislative session: $22 million for the Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund, preserved funding for Project Open Space, and protected funds for environmental enforcement. The Smarter Transportation Choices for Maryland Act passed and establishes smart and fair growth criteria for funding transportation projects. The Watershed Protection and Restoration Act did not pass. Instead “emergency regulations” were passed, which constitute a severe setback to the 2007 Stormwater Management legislation. A legislative effort to restrict funding for the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic, was defeated. Some legislators from the Eastern Shore wanted to use the budget process to try to intimidate the Environmental Law Clinic from taking action against Perdue and other companies who are major contributors to agricultural pollution of the Bay and other waterways. .

End Life With Out Parole Sentencing for Juveniles – The U.S. is the only country that officially sanctions life-long sentences for children who have committed serious crimes, and Maryland currently has 13 such individuals serving sentences. Efforts to outlaw this practice in Maryland did not move forward this year.

*source: National Center for Education Statistics


4. Appeal to Fellow Progressives: Looking for stay-at-home parents who would like to volunteer to be part of a rotating cadre of progressives visiting Annapolis on a weekly basis during the upcoming 2011 session! The idea is to have at least two or three SAH moms or dads in a group, and one or two will visit Annapolis one day while the other watches the children, then switch for another day during the week. While in Annapolis we will meet with legislators and lobby for progressive issues. This would only be for the session, from January to April. If anyone is interested or know someone who might be interested, please contact Jessica Sharp ASAP, as we will need volunteers to get to know one another and feel comfortable leaving each other’s children with one another. The more time we have to get to know each other, the better for us and for our kids.

Please pass this on to any stay-at-home parents whom you think would be interested, and thanks.

Jessica Sharp / 240-280-2582 / or


5. Montgomery County Progressive Alliance–What’s new with the MCPA?

MCPA is local, independent coalition of organizations. MCPA organizes debates, forums and other events to inform the public and advance understanding and progress in Montgomery County.
We’re focusing efforts on making progress in our county and state on Healthcare, the Environment, Education, Labor, Transportation, Energy and other issues. We’re building up our coalition and lobby efforts on the state and national level, planning special events, forming a steering committee, and working on meetings with legislators, and other organizations.

Help us establish our priorities, allocate our resources, and make a real difference. For the low cost of $25/year, about $2 per month, you can participate in the changes you want to see in Montgomery County. Contribute online or bring payment to any event or meeting.

Donate online:

Join the Montgomery County Progressive Alliance google group:

If you’re on Facebook, please join the MCPA group:


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