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Congressional District 7 Special Election

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director

As I’m sure you’ve noted on your calendar, the special election is coming up very quickly- April 28th! We want to be sure your voter registration information is up to date and you are clear on how to vote by mail because it can be confusing.

We hosted our first webinar about the special elections with our partners and in case you missed it, here is the recorded meeting:

Both the Special Election on April 28 th and the June 2 nd Primary will be primarily Vote By Mail, with limited in-person options.
Despite the critical public health dangers of COVID-19, elections can be conducted in a safe and secure manner through Vote By Mail.
33 States – Including Maryland – allow any eligible voter to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail without needing to provide a reason. The April and June Elections are simply a rapid expansion of that program.

Voting by Mail

  • All registered voters in Congressional District 7 will receive ballots
  • Ballots will be sent to the address listed with the State Board of Elections
  • Ballots will not be forwarded
  • Voters must mail back their own ballot by the US Postal Service
  • Postage will be pre-paid for mailed ballots
  • Ballots sent by e-mail will need to be printed and mailed with appropriate postage (2 stamps)
  • Ballots should be signed and filled out with a black pen
  • Ballots must be postmarked on or before April 28th

Voting in Person

  • Each jurisdiction will have one in-person voting centers
    • Baltimore City: Edmondson High School – 501 N. Athol Avenue
    • Baltimore County: Martin’s West – 6817 Dogwood Road
    • Howard County: Howard County Fairgrounds – 2210 Fairgrounds Road
  • Vote Centers will be open on April 28th from 7am – 8pm
  • Ballot marking devices will be available for voters with disabilities
  • Each jurisdiction will have at least one secure vote drop box which will be available on election day. Locations will be finalized by April 20th
  • Both the Special Election on April 28 th and the June 2 nd Primary will be primarily Vote By Mail, with limited in-person options.
  • Despite the critical public health dangers of COVID-19, elections can be conducted in a safe and secure manner through Vote By Mail

33 States – Including Maryland – allow any eligible voter to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail without needing to provide a reason. The April and June Elections are simply a rapid expansion of that program.

Check your Registration

  • To register or to check the status of your registration can be done on the State Board of Elections website: www.elections.Maryland.gov
  • Registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot will require a state ID
  • Same Day registration will be available at vote centers, however these voters will likely be required to fill out a provisional ballot.

Important Dates

  • April 21 – Last day to request a ballot to be mailed
  • Ballots sent by USPS will include postage-paid return envelopes
  • April 24 – Deadline to register to vote and request ballot be e-mailed
  • E-mailed ballots will need to be printed and mailed. Voter will be required to pay their own postage (2 stamps).
  • April 28 – Ballots must be postmarked by this date or cast in person
  • May 6 – Results expected to be announced on or before this date.

Troubleshooting

  • If you have not received a ballot
  • If you have general questions or problems on election day
    • 1-866-OUR-VOTE: national election hotline
    • 410-844-4859: Baltimore Votes election day hotline

Benefits of Vote By Mail

  • Election Security
    • Paper Records of every vote in case of a recount
    • Few instances of fraud. Oregon voters have sent in over 100 million ballots since 2000, and only about a dozen people have been caught and prosecuted for election fraud, none of it organized or consequential
  • Voter Education
    • Voters have time to sit with ballots and do their research
    • This is especially important for voters with lower literacy levels or those whose first language is not English

 

Celebrate Earth Today

By Laura Wood, Development Director

Like us, we hope you’re enjoying, exploring, and taking refuge in Maryland’s great outdoors during this unprecedented time. Let’s all celebrate our natural environment today, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!

Today is such a reminder of how important it is that we protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land on which we live. 

We are watchdogs – guardians of our environment – protecting Maryland’s natural resources not only for us, but for our children and future generations.

With your support, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters will work to ensure pro-conservation leaders are elected, and then hold them accountable through our scorecard and policy advocacy.

Only by transforming our political system and electing environmental champions will we create the opportunity to take the bold action needed on climate change.

Celebrate the 50th Earth Day and donate $50 to Maryland League of Conservation Voters now.

Together, we can raise the political voice that is needed to protect Maryland’s environment for the future.

Stay well and healthy,

Laura Wood, Development Director

P.S. Interested in a tax deduction? Make your gift to the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund here.Even if you don’t itemize on your taxes, thanks to the COVID-19 Relief Bill, your contribution could be tax-deductible up to $300 (consult your tax advisor for more information).

 

2020 Legislative Wrap Up

By Kim Coble, Executive Director

This year’s post-session wrap-up is coming three weeks before it normally would, due to these unprecedented times.  What is normally a recap of what bills did or didn’t pass, this year we need to look at things through a slightly fuzzier lens: what passed, what didn’t pass due to legislative inaction, and what was abruptly discarded due to a public health crisis.

At the time the session was curtailed, Maryland LCV and the environmental community were on track to have a successful legislative session, with strong, ambitious legislation passing in the sectors of transportation, energy, resiliency, water, and agriculture.

Unfortunately, as the coronavirus required us to socially distance ourselves, it also meant many of those bills ended up on the figurative cutting room floor. We are still proud of the progress we made, which sets us up for future success. The groundwork we laid on key issues is essential as we face the global crisis of climate change.

There were literally dozens of bold, visionary bills presented this session, most of which were not passed. Here are some of the highlights:

To see the full legislative summary, go here.

Oysters: One of the clearest victories of the year was to further protect our oysters. The veto of last year’s bill – creating an oyster fisheries management program – was overridden. A corrective bill to fix the dates complicated by the veto’s delay passed both chambers unanimously.

  • HB720-19/SB830-19 (Barve/Elfreth)Natural Resources – Fishery Management Plans – Oysters
  • HB911/SB808 (Gilchrist/Elfreth)Natural Resources – Fishery Management Plans – Oysters

Resiliency: In the face of a public health emergency, the necessity of preparing for emergencies brought on by climate change came into sharper relief.  A bill that gives counties the bonding authority for resiliency projects passed, as did one that allows the Bay Restoration Fund to be used to support similar efforts under limited circumstances.

  • HB78/SB172 (Watson/Hester)Bay Restoration Fund-Authorized Uses
  • HB539/SB457 (Watson/Elfreth)Local Governments – Resilience Authorities – Authorization

Pesticides: After a pitched battle, the General Assembly passed a phase-out ban of Chlorpyrifos – a dangerous pesticide connected to negative health impacts in children.

  • HB229/SB300 (Stein/Lam)Pesticides – Use of Chlorpyrifos – Prohibition

Several bills were blocked by negative votes, departmental opposition, or deliberate legislative inaction:

  • HB432/SB423 (Korman/Zucker)Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act – This bill would have mandated that all future purchases in the state’s transit bus fleets be for electric vehicles.  It passed the House and the Budget and Tax Committee in the Senate, but an abstention in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee gave it an untimely unfavorable vote.
  • HB98/SB168 (Davis/Kelley)Electricity – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Qualifying Biomass: This bill would have removed “black liquor” from the resources receiving subsidies as a clean energy resource as part of Renewable Portfolio Standard. This bill received an unfavorable vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

Transportation: A number of important bills were introduced that would have made considerable progress in our transportation sector by adequately funding existing public transportation systems, and transitioning the entire fleet of state vehicles and buses, as well as private vehicles, to electric. Of these, the bill to adequately fund public transit came the closest to making it through both chambers, passing on a party line vote in the House of Delegates but not receiving a vote in the Senate:

  • HB368/SB424 (Lierman/Zucker):  Transit Safety and Investment Act: Passed house

Energy: Maryland has made great strides in recent years to transform our energy sector from polluting fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy.  The urgency of the climate crisis inspired dozens of bills to address the energy production and use sector.  The three bills that made progress before the abrupt end to session promoted architectural changes to state-owned buildings to reduce energy consumption (and protect birds), required the Public Service Commission to consider climate impacts when approving projects, and updating our state emission reductions goals while offering tangible steps to reach those goals. Each of these received votes in one chamber, but failed to advance in the second due to time-restrictions.

  • HB192/SB299 (Hill/Guzzone-Lam) – Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act: Passed house
  • HB531/SB656 (Charkoudian/Kramer) – Utility Regulation-Consideration of Climate and Labor: Passed senate
  • HB1425/SB926 (Stein/Pinsky) – Climate Solutions Act of 2020:  Passed both senate committees

Resiliency: While we work to lessen the effects of climate change, our state also must move to protect our communities and environment from the crises that we are facing right now. A suite of bills worked to confront these concerns, including one creating a State Resilience Office at the Emergency Management Service and another that created an ombudsman in the Attorney General’s office to facilitate environmental enforcement and transparency of data.

  • HB614/SB460 (Lierman/Elfreth) – Environmental Accountability and Transparency Act: Passed senate
  • SB721 (Hester) – Emergency Management – Chief Resilience Officer – Appointment and Duties: Passed senate

Water: While the oyster legislation was a strong victory for Maryland’s waterways, other bills that would have addressed the health of our waters failed to make it over the finish line, despite a strong start. One, that would have created better systems of licensing for septic system inspectors who are on the front line of preventing septic run-off into our waterways, failed to reach the priority level to move to the floor in the last days.  The other would have banned plastic bags at check-out throughout the state, which moved to the senate floor on the last day of the abbreviated session and failed to make it through second reader.

  • SB254 (Young) – On-site Sewage Disposal Systems – Inspection – Licensing: Passed senate
  • HB209/SB313 (Lierman/Augustine) Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act: Passed house

Thanks to your online advocacy (over 6,000 emails to legislators!), calls to your legislators (almost 250 patch-thru calls!), in person lobby visits, and attending rallies in Annapolis we were able to make the progress we did make. The work you do is essential to protecting our air, land, water, and communities. 

Advancing strong environmental legislation is essential as we face the global crisis of climate change. As the environmental watchdog in Maryland, we will be keeping a close watch over the special session planned for May and we plan to release a 2020 Environmental Scorecard in the coming months.

Thank you for being a conservation voter,

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV
Executive Director

The full legislative summary is here.

Stay connected with us while practicing social distancing:

  

Long-time Environmental Champions join Maryland LCV

By Ed Hatcher, Board Chair

Nothing is more important than protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land on which we live, and these issues are even more urgent because of the climate crisis and now the coronavirus outbreak.

The public health crisis has made the Maryland LCV team more determined than ever to advance our mission of keeping elected officials responsive and accountable to each and every one of us.

That’s why I am thrilled to announce our two new board members Stuart Clarke and Steve Lafferty.

Stuart and Steve are long-time environmental champions well suited to advance our mission of accountability during these challenging times. They will also be important players as we work to make Maryland a national leader in what can be done at the state level to combat climate change.

Stuart is vice president of strategic initiatives for University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES). Steve is a former Maryland State delegate and now Baltimore County’s chief sustainability officer.

We are thrilled to welcome these two long-time environmental champions onto our board. Maryland LCV is working to make Maryland a national leader in demonstrating what can be done at the state level to combat climate change. Stuart and Steve will be important players in our efforts.

Stuart Clarke

 

STUART CLARKE

Before joining UMCES, Clarke served as the executive director of the Town Creek Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation dedicated to a sustainable environment. He has also acted as co-chair of the Maryland Climate Commission,  and as a trustee for Greenpeace USA.

Stuart earned a graduate degree in political science from Yale University. He and his family reside on the Eastern Shore.

Hon. Steve Lafferty

STEVE LAFFERTY

Steve served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007 to 2019, where he was a leader on issues related to the environment and land use. A longtime resident of the Towson area, he has previously served as the Howard County deputy director of planning and zoning, and as director of special projects for the Howard County executive.

Lafferty earned a master of arts degree from Bowling Green State University, and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Together with you, Maryland LCV’s staff and board of directors are working to ensure a healthy future for all our communities, neighborhoods, and families.

Here’s to more good work to protect Maryland’s environment,

Ed

Ed Hatcher, Maryland LCV Board Chair
PS: At Maryland LCV we care deeply about our staff, supporters, and fellow humans across the country. That’s why we are putting in place all the precautionary measures we can. For the immediate future, Maryland LCV has suspended all activities that would require people to come together in the same room. All staff are teleworking, all meetings will be via video conference and all events are cancelled.
By |2020-03-31T19:31:59-04:00March 31st, 2020|Categories: Blog, Successes|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Top Environmental Advocacy Group touts legislative victories with truncated legislative session

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2020

Contact: Dannielle Lipinski,  dlipinski@mdlcv.org

Top Environmental Advocacy Group touts legislative victories with truncated legislative session

Annapolis, MD – For the first time since the Civil War, the Maryland General Assembly has ended ahead of schedule in order to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. Alongside crucial legislation to assist our state through this crisis, our elected leaders worked hard to protect our air, land, water, and communities.

“We applaud the members and staff of the Maryland General Assembly and the Department of General Services for their diligence, leadership and commitment during extraordinary circumstances. They exemplified that when we work together, we can achieve great things.  Marylanders are fortunate our leaders accomplished top priority actions while also protecting public health.” Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

A few shining examples of their efforts include passage of an essential oyster bill and banning the dangerous pesticide, chlorpyrifos. The Oyster Fisheries Management Act creates a new collaborative process and opportunities to improve oyster fishery management. The ban on chlorpyrifos is one of the first in the nation to take effect. The legislators also worked on a suite of bills that assist with community resiliency around the climate crisis. Lawmakers passed these in the final hours of session. 

And some bills simply suffered from time running out and the legislative session ending early due to the coronavirus pandemic. A number of our priority bills were passed out of one chamber but there wasn’t enough time for the second chamber to move the bills. These organizational priorities were the Transit Safety and Investment Act to fully fund MTA, the Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act, and the Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act, which would have prohibited the use of single-use bags. 

While some bills were not able to cross the finish line because of lack of time in an abbreviated session, several were blocked by negative votes or deliberate inaction including removing trash incineration from the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the Clean Coal Community Transition Act, and a bill to electrify the MTA Bus Fleet.

Advancing strong environmental legislation is essential as we face the global crisis of climate change. Maryland LCV will be keeping a close watch over the special session planned for May and has plans to release a 2020 Environmental Scorecard in the coming months.

# # #

Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

By |2020-03-18T20:38:41-04:00March 18th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , |0 Comments

Special Update: Coronavirus, the environment and the legislative session

By Kim Coble, Executive Director

At Maryland LCV we care deeply about our staff, supporters, and fellow humans across the country. That’s why we are putting in place all the precautionary measures we can. For the immediate future, Maryland LCV has suspended all activities that would require people to come together in the same room. All staff are teleworking, all meetings will be via video conference and all events are cancelled.

If nothing else, the COVID-19 outbreak highlights the importance of a government that quickly and efficiently funds and enacts policies that benefit people and our communities. This public health crisis has made me more determined than ever to ensure we have a government and elected officials who are responsive and accountable to each and everyone of us.

As of this writing, the Maryland legislature is adjourning on Wednesday, March 18th. The first time since the Civil War that the legislative session has been cut short. However, our important work to protect Maryland’s air, land, water, and communities is continuing and we are urging the Maryland General Assembly to focus on a few key environmental bills before they close the doors on Wednesday.

And we could use your help! You can take action from the comfort of your home by checking out our Action Alert Center and sending an email to your legislators today. To find out who your state legislator is, please click here.

The environmental priorities that are a top priority and could pass in the next two days include:

I hope you are taking measures to stay safe and informed. And when you are not sending emails to your legislator, you can find updates on the Covid-19 outbreak from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Maryland’s health authorities.

Thank you and take care,

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV
Executive Director

Stay connected with us while practicing social distancing:

  

Maryland LCV Announces Delegation Scores from LCV’s 2019 National Environmental Scorecard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 12, 2020
Contact: Dannielle Lipinski, dlipinski@mdlcv.org , 443-617-7257

Maryland LCV Announces Delegation Scores from LCV’s 2019 National Environmental Scorecard

Annapolis, MD – Maryland LCV today released the Maryland delegation’s scores on the League of Conservation Voters’ 2019 National Environmental Scorecard. The Scorecard is the primary yardstick for evaluating the environmental records of every member of Congress, and is available for download here, in Spanish here, and online at scorecard.lcv.org

“As the Trump administration continues to roll back environmental protections and actively put our health at risk, Congressman Andy Harris refused to stand up for Maryland’s air, water, land, and communities,” said Maryland LCV’s Executive Director, Kim Coble. “Instead of rubber stamping Trump and Mitch McConnell’s polluter agenda, we need our representatives in Congress to fight for Maryland’s communities — and thankfully we can count on Senators Cardin and Van Hollen to push back. We’re more determined than ever before to hold members of Congress accountable for denying our families’ fundamental rights to clean air, safe drinking water and a healthy environment.”

The 2019 Scorecard measures votes cast during the first session of the 116th Congress. In Maryland, seven House members and Senators Cardin and Van Hollen earned a score of 95 percent or greater, while one House member earned an abysmal score of 10 percent or less. The average House score for Maryland was 85 percent and the average Senate score was 100 percent. The full delegation’s scores for 2019 are:

Senator Cardin – 100%

Senator Van Hollen – 100%

Representative Harris – 0%

Representative Ruppersberger – 97%

Representative Sarbanes – 97%

Representative Brown – 97%

Representative Hoyer – 97%

Representative Trone – 97%

Representative Cummings* – 100%

Representative Raskin – 100 %

 “We are grateful to Speaker Pelosi and her pro-environment majority for prioritizing climate action and protections of our air, water, lands, wildlife, and democracy,” said LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld. “While pro-environment leaders supported policies that will protect communities across the country, especially low-income communities and communities of color, from the negative impacts of climate change-fueled extreme heat, natural disasters, and toxic pollution last year, Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s refusal to act on hundreds of important House-passed bills put the health of our children and families at risk for the benefit of his corporate polluter friends.”

When Congress fails to protect our fundamental rights to clean air and safe drinking water, our communities are the ones most impacted,” said National Director of LCV’s Chispa program, Johana Vicente. “We are incredibly thankful for the environmental champions in both chambers of Congress who stood up and fought for us in 2019. We will not forget the senators who voted against the health of our families when they sided with Trump and polluters time and again.”

The 2019 Scorecard includes 35 House votes that span the chamber’s assaults on clean air and water, lands and wildlife protections, investments in clean energy and so much more. In the Senate, the majority of the 14 votes scored are confirmation votes on Trump’s anti-environmental nominees.

LCV has published a National Environmental Scorecard every Congress since 1970. The Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which members of Congress should be scored. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including energy, climate change, public health, public lands and wildlife conservation, and spending for environmental programs. The votes included in the Scorecard presented members of Congress with a real choice and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. More information on individual votes and the Scorecard archive can be found at scorecard.lcv.org.

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By |2020-03-12T12:24:56-04:00March 12th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press, Uncategorized|0 Comments