February 12, 2009

Progressive Working Group Report

Progressive Working Group Participants and Friends,

Last month, the Progressive Working Group (PWG) held two meetings with legislators – Jan. 6th at Eastern Village Cohousing and Jan. 11th at Wheaton Library - to present and advocate for the 14 legislative priorities our coalition had agreed upon. A total of 19 state legislators from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties and over 100 participants from progressive groups attended the meetings which we felt were very successful in creating greater visibility for our legislative agenda and the PWG.

To confirm their positions on the issues, we also sent written surveys to legislators who attended the meetings and those who didn't, and we followed up with phone calls. The positions of 30 state legislators, as reflected at the meetings and in the surveys, are attached. Please feel free to use the information as your group sees fit for lobbying or membership education.

On Feb. 10th , members of the PWG steering committee met with House Speaker Michael Busch to introduce him to the coalition, advocate and discuss our legislative agenda, and get feedback. Following the meeting, the steering committee met with District 20 Delegate Sheila Hixson, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee and District 20 Senator Jamie Raskin. A summary appears below.

The next meeting of the PWG is Sunday afternoon Feb. 22nd at 1:30 at the Wheaton Library. (11701 Georgia Ave., Wheaton 20902) We will present further information on these Annapolis meetings, hear reports from progressive groups about their lobbying efforts in Annapolis, and discuss next steps in advancing our legislative priorities and building our coalition. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us.


On Feb. 11th Michael Tabor and PWG members Margaret Flowers and Bridgette Marti spoke at a meeting of Baltimore United for Peace and Justice to explain the Progressive Working Group. There was discussion of a statewide network.

Also, the PWG is co-sponsoring a fundraising house party with Progressive Neighbors 1:30 Sunday afternoon, March 15th Please join fellow progressives in what should be a fun event with Magpie, a well-known folk duo. Admission will be $15 plus, if possible, a dessert to share.

The Maryland Chapter of the Physicians for a National Health Program is asking for help in reaching out to health care providers and legislators who will be attending a State Medical Society of Maryland rally/lobby day in Annapolis on Wednesday, Feb. 18th from 8 to 11 am on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis. Contact Margaret Flowers at conversationcoalition@gmail.com if you are able to help.

For the Progressive Working Group Steering Committee

Sharon Dooley, Mike Tabor, Dana Beyer, Norman Oslik, Mike Hersh, Wally Malakoff


Annapolis Meetings with: House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch (District 30)
Senator Jamie Raskin and Delegate Sheila Hixson (both District 20) February 11, 2009

A delegation representing the Progressive Working Group Steering Committee made up of Dana Beyer, Mike Tabor, Mike Hersh and Norman Oslik met with Speaker Busch, Delegate Sheila Hixson and District 20 Senator Jamie Raskin. to discuss and advocate for our ’09 Legislative Agenda. All three legislators offered suggestions to guide our legislative strategy.

Speaker Busch met with us for approximately 20 minutes, and discussed prospects for our agenda in the 2009 General Assembly Session. His view was that some issues have good prospects for passage in both the House and the Senate, but others will not pass one or both houses. The House of Delegates is reluctant to act on legislation previously passed by the House, but not by the Senate.

Here is what he expressed to us:

1. Combined Reporting – Previously passed in the House, but unlikely to be considered again, absent Senate action. Passage is unlikely this session.

2. Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act – Likely to pass in both the House and the Senate.

3. De-fund the ICC – He felt there is no chance of passage in either the House or the Senate.

4. In-State Tuition for Children of Immigrants irrespective of status – The House previously passed this, but is unlikely to consider it again, absent Senate action. Passage is unlikely.

5. Oppose Real ID – Real ID is not likely to pass in its current form.

6. Student Privacy re: ASVAB – More information needed to make any assessment.

7. Keep MD Guard at Home – Questioned Governor's legal authority to prevent deployment.

8. Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage – Unlikely to pass this session. Speaker supports a Civil Unions Act, but passage is unlikely this session.

9. Gender Identity – Unsure of prospects in House. Passage is unlikely this session.

10. Electoral Integrity – Speaker supports “Going back to paper ballot.” Needs more information to make a more substantial assessment.

11. No Spying – A bill is likely to pass this session.

12. Public Campaign Finance – Previously passed in the House, but unlikely to be considered again, absent Senate action. Passage is unlikely this session.

13. Workforce Fraud – Will probably pass. He is working closely with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and the O'Malley Administration. Well aware this would generate revenues for the state.

14. Health Security Act – Very unlikely to pass in House or Senate. ERISA Federal legislation, he feels, impedes State action. Hope for $500 million from the Federal Government to extend healthcare.

The Speaker was very frank, generous, and forthcoming and expressed sincere interest in our work. He thanked us for our efforts, and we discussed continuing communications. Busch indicated that he listens to elected delegates so PWG and affiliated groups need to build support among delegates and have them make their position clear to Busch. That is particularly true for items #6, 10, and 14 because he said he is unfamiliar with them.

Meeting with Sen. Jamin Raskin: Sen. Raskin strongly supports the entire PWG agenda. This was an exchange of ideas covering specific legislators who are supportive or not supportive of various bills and initiatives. We also discussed concerns about a weaker substitute bill on State Police Spying. Sen. Raskin suggested other initiatives, ways to expand our capacity, and other valuable concepts. He thanked us for our involvement and interest, and invited us to work with him moving forward.

Meeting with Del. Sheila Hixson, Chairperson House Ways and Means Committee: Del. Hixson is supportive on all the PWG bills and issues with the exception of de-funding the ICC. The Chairperson was helpful identifying areas of wide agreement in the House, and indicating difficulties with certain issues. She also expressed a strong willingness to meet with our members and others, working on solutions and better approaches to several concerns including the ICC. She thanked us for our involvement and interest, invited us to work with her moving forward, and invited us to her upcoming breakfast meeting February 22, 2009.

No comments: