Statewide Voting Rights Coalition Urges Patience as Ballots are Counted

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 4, 2020

Contact: Meredith Curtis Goode, ACLU-MD, media@aclu-md.org
Dannielle Lipinski, Maryland LCV Ed Fund, dlipinski@mdlcv.org
Liz Iacobucci, Common Cause, liacobucci@commoncause.org 

Statewide Voting Rights Coalition Urges Patience as Ballots are Counted

Maryland — The state-wide coalition Everyone Votes Maryland has been working tirelessly throughout the 2020 congressional 7th District Special Election, Primary, and now General Election to ensure that every Marylander knows their rights when it comes to voting and ensuring a fair and safe election process.

“We have already seen impressive turnout in Maryland, and voters young and old have demonstrated great resiliency in their ability to navigate new voting processes amidst the pandemic,” said Maryland PIRG Foundation director Emily Scarr. “As we wait for results we should rest assured that our elections staff in Maryland and nationwide are doing the painstaking work of ensuring every vote is counted in a secure manner. This is democracy at work.”

“This election season, Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund deployed a comprehensive civic engagement campaign aimed at ensuring Maryland voters – and particularly those from underrepresented communities — knew how to use their vote to advocate for smart and equitable environmental policies,” said Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV Education Fund. 

“We need to be patient and let election officials count all the votes. Maryland’s primary in June was conducted mostly by mail. It took several days after primary day to count all the votes that had been mailed on time for Mayor of Baltimore,” said Maryland Sierra Club political chair Rich Norling. “Some other states have laws that don’t allow them to start processing and counting their thousands of mailed ballots until election day itself. So be prepared for patience as election officials get an accurate count of all the mailed-in ballots.”

“Thanks are owed to the many Maryland volunteers, poll workers, and public election officials for ensuring fair and safe elections during this pandemic,” said Larry Ottinger, Board Chair of Our Maryland Education Fund.  “And to the record number of Marylanders who have voted during this pandemic – whether by mail or in person – to make their voices heard in our democracy.”

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) strongly supports every effort to make sure that all the ballots cast in this election are counted. We’d like to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to protect our democracy by ensuring a fair and transparent process that enables every eligible voter’s voice to be heard,” said Zainab Chaudry, Director, CAIR Office in Maryland.

“While COVID-19 has made voting unsafe for many voters with disabilities, mail-in ballots and remote accessible ballots have allowed many voters to cast their ballot safely and independently. But it may take longer for this year for your vote to be officially counted,” said Ben Jackson, Staff Attorney of Disability Rights Maryland.

“We are glad to see our Maryland leaders: Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and Speaker of the House of Delegates Adrienne Jones have committed to counting every last ballot before declaring winners of the 2020 General Election and hope other states will follow their good, democratic example,” said Cristi Demnowicz, chair of Represent Maryland.

“Baltimore Women United is proud of the efforts of Baltimoreans and Marylanders to turn out the vote this election season, to protect our elections and ensure they are safe and fair, and to make our voices heard as voters. We expect that every vote will be counted – this is our right and our demand. Voting is how the people speak; the time and effort to count all votes is how we are heard. The women of Baltimore will be heard,” said Jessica Klaitman, Baltimore Women United Steering Committee.

Every ballot must be counted. We are proud of the enthusiasm and determination of Marylanders to vote and the massive effort by our coalition partners to ensure robust access to the ballot for all voters. No matter what the outcome of this election, we will continue to expand and protect democracy. Together, we must realize race equity, reimagine policing, end mass incarceration, protect immigrants’ rights, safeguard privacy, advance LGBTQ+ rights, and stop any rollback of our hard won civil rights and civil liberties,” said Dana Vickers Shelley, Executive Director, ACLU of Maryland. 

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Everyone Votes Maryland is a nonpartisan coalition of national, state, and grassroots organizations dedicated to ensuring that all eligible Marylanders can have their voices heard on Election Day. 

https://everyonevotesmaryland.org/

By |2020-11-04T07:34:27-05:00November 4th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Diversity, Equity, Press|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

Originally posted on Maryland Matters on October 28, 2020

By Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV

Maryland Matters recently speculated that, with vehicular traffic down across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps it’s time to put the brakes on the Hogan administration’s massive highway expansion projects [“COVID-19 Decreased Air Pollution in the State, Study Shows,” Oct. 22]. We agree. It’s time to get out of that gasoline-powered car altogether and jump on the train of public transit and electrification and other zero-emission methods.

In Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ 2020 Environmental Scorecard, we criticized  the General Assembly for failing to pass any major transportation legislation, taking a step backward at exactly the moment when we should have been boldly advancing.

Leadership in both the House and the Senate have begun talking openly about their priorities for the 2021 session in the face of the two national public health emergencies of COVID-19 and racial injustice. We applaud the measures both presiding officers are taking to address these important challenges. We urge them to recognize that public transportation must be central to any proposal, and we are eager to offer solutions that will meet the state’s transportation needs while minimizing the air pollution that particularly plagues our communities of color.

Now, while our state leaders are tackling racial injustice and the systems that keep too many people of color in poverty, is the perfect time to improve our public transit system. The problems are proven:

  • 2015 study out of Harvard identified long commute times for workers in one’s neighborhood as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty.
  • In Baltimore City, where many students rely on public transportation to get to school, our public transit system has the highest number of breakdowns in the country, according to federal data.
  • Diesel fumes from buses around the state contribute to a disproportionately high number of respiratory illnesses in our children of color who are most likely to rely on school buses. While electric buses have a higher initial cost, the long-term savings of maintenance and gas makes them more cost-effective purchases.

In a nutshell, students can’t benefit from world-class education if they are too sick to go to school or if they can’t reliably get there. Affordable health care does not help those who don’t have a way to get to their doctors without costly emergency services.

A large and diverse coalition of community advocates are rallying to push the General Assembly to pass several bills that will help address the inequities and other impacts of a neglected transit system.

The Transit Safety Investment Act will ensure that the Maryland Transit Administration has sufficient funds to adequately maintain the current fleet of buses, trains, subways and stations – allowing safe and reliable transportation for roughly 6 million riders each month including those our health care workers and the people in our state who do not own their own cars to reach their health care providers.

The Electric Bus Transition Act would ensure that by 2035 all the buses maintained by the state are zero-emission buses, reducing the diesel pollution that most impacts communities of color and low-income populations in our state.

Another bill, School Bus Purchasing – Zero Emission Vehicle – Requirement, long championed by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, would do the same for school buses to help combat the epidemic levels of asthma in Latinx children around the state.

The Transportation Funding Act creates the state fund to implement the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multi-state compact to reduce transportation pollution throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region.

The General Assembly should also consider a new bill that expands “complete streets” policies that this General Assembly has already supported. The bill would allow projects that improve bike, pedestrian and public transportation infrastructure to be funded by red light and traffic camera revenues, which would make these systems safer and more accessible to all Marylanders.

Each of these proposals helps support our statewide goals of reducing the carbon emissions from our transportation sector and preserving the air pollution reductions that have been a result of COVID-driven stay-at-home orders. Each of these proposals also supports the growth of good, family-supporting union jobs at nearly double the rate of the same amount of money spent on highway expansion. That sounds like a win-win solution for all Marylanders who are struggling to emerge from quarantine.

Marylanders deserve investments in infrastructure that improves our health and the health of our communities. We deserve access to good jobs and good health care. And we deserve the safe, clean and reliable transportation system — including bike and pedestrian infrastructure — that allows us to truly be one Maryland, connected to each other and all that are important to us.

We look forward to working with the Maryland General Assembly to make all of this possible.

By |2020-10-28T13:02:31-04:00October 28th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Climate Change, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

2020 Legislative Champions

Environmental Champions and Leaders

Maryland LCV honors those legislators who were sponsors and leaders on our 2020 legislative priorities:

Agriculture

  • Chlorpyrifos Ban: Del. Dana Stein and Sen. Clarence Lam
Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to be toxic and linked to significant, adverse health impacts in children. Although prohibited for commercial or residential use for years, it is still permitted for use on crops and golf courses. This bill would ban all uses of chlorpyrifos.

Resiliency

  • Environmental Accountability and Transparency:  Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
Increasing transparency of the inspection and enforcement data by state agencies would dramatically help community groups and non-profit monitoring organizations enforce environmental laws. The bill also would have created an ombudsman position in the Office of the Attorney General to facilitate coordination between agencies and citizens.
Water
  • Plastic Bag Ban: Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Malcolm Augustine
Banning plastic bags from point-of-sale throughout the state would reduce water pollution, diminish Maryland’s reliance on petroleum products and fossil fuels, and clean our air and waterways.

Transportation

  • Transit Funding: Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Craig Zucker
According to a Capital Needs Assessment released by the Department of Transportation, Maryland’s public transit system has a $2 billion shortfall over the next 10 years. The transportation sector is the single greatest contributor to Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions and provides critical services to low-income communities. Public transit system improvements are essential to substantively tackling climate change and environmental justice.
  • State Fleet Bus Electrification: Del. Marc Korman and Sen. Craig Zucker
Diesel emissions cause climate pollution and threaten the respiratory health of passengers, drivers, and especially low-income communities that are frequently located near major roadways.This bill would require a gradual transition of all buses purchased by the state to zero-emission vehicles.
  • Transportation Carbon Fund Act (TCI): Del. Marc Korman
This bill creates a special fund to finance projects related to the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multi-state effort to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy, and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
  • School Bus Electrification: Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo
Diesel emissions from school buses disproportionately affect the health of low-income students and students of color. This bill would require a gradual transition of all buses purchased by county boards of elections — or independent contractors hired to serve public schools — to zero-emission vehicles.

Climate

  • Coal Transition: Del. Kumar Barve and Sen. Chris West
Coal plants are a leading contributor to smog-forming nitrous oxide pollution.  More than 85% of Marylanders — and 90% of African American and Hispanic communities — live in counties with air quality below federal standards. This bill would set a timeline for the retirement of Maryland’s remaining coal-fired power plants, with a transition plan that invests in communities, workers and counties with coal plants.
Maryland LCV also recognizes members who sponsored additional environmental community priority legislation:
  • Sustainable Buildings Act: Del. Terri Hill and Sens. Guy Guzzone and Clarence Lam
  • Removing Incineration Subsidies: Del. Nick Mosby and Sen. Michael Hough
  • Oyster Fisheries Override: Del Kumar Barve and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
  • Oyster Corrective Bill: Del. Jim Gilchrist and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
We applaud these legislators for sponsoring legislation on climate policy
  • Climate Solutions Act: Del. Dana Stein and Sen. Paul Pinsky
  • PSC Climate Bill: Del. Lorig Charkoudian and Sen. Ben Kramer
  • Carbon Pricing: Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo and Sen. Ben Kramer
  • Community Choice Energy: Del. Lorig Charkoudian and Sen. Pam Beidle
We applaud these legislators for sponsoring legislation on water policy
  • Conowingo Dam Emergency Legislation: Del. Jay Jacobs and Sen. Steve Hershey
  • County Resilience Authority: Del. Courtney Watson and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
  • BRF for Resilience Funding: Del. Courtney Watson and Sen. Katie Fry Hester

An Insider’s View on the Elections

An Insider’s View on the Elections

On October 6th, our Executive Director, Kim Coble was joined by the national League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski for a behind-the-scenes look at the general election and what it could mean for our environment.

Candace Dodson-Reed is our VIP moderator. Candace is the host of the popular Elevate Maryland podcast. She’s also the chief of staff and executive director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion at UMBC and on the board of Maryland LCV.

Check out the recording below

 

Civic Engagement Toolkit

Civic Engagement Toolkit

Your Vote: Our Future is a campaign designed by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund that encourages all  Marylanders to register to vote and cast their ballot in a safe and effective manner. Help us reach as many Marylanders as possible by creating a 1 minute video in which you tell your own story about why you vote. Then post your video and inspire others to vote!

Civic Engagement Toolkit

Why I Vote Video Collection

These videos are a part of the Your Vote, Our Future campaign. To submit your own video for a chance to be featured here, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |2020-10-06T12:38:31-04:00September 28th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Electoral, Successes|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Reposted with permission from the Bay Journal

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Program has trained more than 100 residents to become advocates for their communities

By Jeremy Cox : September 15, 2020

Candida Garcia had never been involved in environmental causes. But over the past four years, she has founded a community garden, grilled local officials about air quality, campaigned for statewide bans on plastic bags and straws and successfully lobbied her county to purchase electric school buses.

Candida Garcia and students from Rosa Parks Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD, teamed up to create the school’s community garden.

Garcia chalks up her transformation to a leadership program tailored to a demographic that the White-dominated environmental movement has historically overlooked: the Latinx community.

Including Garcia’s inaugural class of 2016, Chispa Maryland has produced more than 100 graduates from its Promotores program. Over the course of six to eight weekly classes, they are given the basics of environmental justice, advocacy and community organizing — with the hope of creating a generation of grassroots “promoters.”

Garcia and her fellow promotores are finding that their work has never been more difficult or urgent. During one of the most imperative moments in its short history, the program may be the prototype that shows green groups in the Chesapeake Bay region and elsewhere how to diversify their membership, said Ramon Palencia-Calvo, director of Maryland’s Chispa.

“I think there’s an understanding among environmental groups that we need to expand our reach beyond the typical audience — the White middle-class person who has disposable time and income to volunteer for an environmental cause,” he said. “We want to create a movement that represents the entire population of Maryland.”

Nearly 90% of leadership positions in environmental groups nationwide were held by White people as of 2014, according to a widely cited study. Hispanics and Latinos occupied fewer than 3% of those positions.

Due to racist housing policies, their communities, though, tend to bear more environmental burdens, suffering from poorer air quality, greater impacts from climate change and more toxic contamination.

Candida Garcia works at the Rosa Parks Elementary School community garden, which science teachers have used as a living classroom.

“In order to make real change, we needed to build power in those communities that are overburdened by pollution and are underserved,” Palencia-Calvo said.

Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, was created by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in 2014. It was the fourth state-based LCV organization to have its own Latinx-geared program after New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. LCV affiliates in Connecticut and Nevada launched programs the following year, bringing the total to six nationwide.

Palencia-Calvo, a former fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, has been overseeing the Maryland program from its earliest days. He never worried about finding a receptive audience. Polls routinely show that Hispanics are concerned about global warming and are apt to believe it is caused by humans. They also show a strong commitment to a host of other environmental issues.

So, he and his team started knocking on doors, beginning in Langley Park in Prince George’s County. About three-quarters of the community’s nearly 20,000 residents are Hispanic. Their housing is often plagued by mold and lead-based paint. The outdoors offers little reprieve because the air is fouled by the area’s heavy traffic.

Four years later, about 30 of Chispa’s promotores reside in the densely populated nook just inside the northeastern corner of the District of Columbia’s Capital Beltway. Garcia was one of the first.

Speaking in Spanish with Palencia-Calvo acting as a translator, she said concerns about the health of her four children triggered her interest in the environment. Could one of her son’s severe asthma attacks be linked to bad air quality or her aging home? How could she find out if her drinking water was safe?

She and other Chispa participants gathered with their families in the evenings at the local community center. Childcare wasn’t a problem because Chispa had educational activities waiting for them. Everyone brought a dish to share.

Chispa staff conducted most of the training, but some sessions featured experts from other environmental groups. After 40 hours of training — the total has since been shortened to 24 hours — Garcia received her graduation certificate. She swelled with pride. “Muy feliz” (very happy) is how she describes the feeling today.

Then, Garcia got to work. With financial support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, she organized a community garden at Rosa Parks Elementary in Hyattsville. It was designed as a “therapy space,” where families could enjoy a rare opportunity to be together, she said. They grew tomatoes, peppers and other staples, which were distributed among some of the school’s low-income families. For the science teachers, it became a living classroom.

Because of the pandemic, the garden was left fallow this year, but Garcia’s other efforts continue to bear fruit. In 2017, Chispa Maryland launched a “Clean Buses for Healthy Ninos” campaign, seeking to steer some of the state’s $75 million Volkswagen settlement money toward zero-emission, electric school buses. Garcia was on the campaign’s front lines, writing a blog post and talking to elected officials.

Last September, the Maryland Department of the Environment invested $2.5 million of that funding in an electric– and propane-bus pilot program in four counties, including Prince George’s.

The Promotores classes have been put on hold this year because of the pandemic, but Chispa leaders hope to restart the program once it’s safe for groups to gather again.

This year’s seemingly unending battle with COVID-19 has plunged Garcia and Palencia-Calvo into territory that would be unfamiliar for many green-focused groups. Garcia, a board member with the Langley Park Civic Association, partnered with Chispa to apply for a grant from LCV’s COVID-19 fund. The association was awarded $20,000, which will be disbursed to families who have suffered financially because of the pandemic. Chispa and the civic association collected an additional $15,000 through community fundraising efforts.

The community has given much to the green movement over the years. Now, it’s time to give back, Garcia said.

“Environmentalism is about the health of the families and the people that we love,” she said.

By |2020-09-23T09:53:24-04:00September 23rd, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , , |0 Comments

New Leadership, Bold Plan Webinar

New Leadership, Bold Plan Webinar

On September 15, we held a webinar with our new leadership and our bold plan moving forward.

We’re building upon our demonstrated record of success by focusing on Three E’s:

  • Environment: Solving the climate crisis and the state’s other pressing environmental problems.
  • Elections: Ensuring all Marylanders have an equal voice in elections and that Maryland LCV optimizes its unique ability to hold elected officials accountable for their votes and actions.
  • Equity: Adapting and targeting our work to ensure low-income residents and communities of color have a strong political voice to address environmental problems that disproportionately affect them.

Check out the recording here in case you missed it:

By |2020-09-17T12:33:13-04:00September 17th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Donor|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Open Letter regarding Budget Cuts to the Maryland Transportation Administration

September 15, 2020
Contact: Kristen Harbeson, kharbeson@mdlcv.org and cell 410-952-8100

Download the pdf of the letter here.

Re: Budget Cuts to the Maryland Transportation Administration

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN, MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY GREG SLATER, AND MARYLAND TRANSIT ADMINISTRATOR KEVIN QUINN:

Last week, the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Transit Administration announced major cuts to the MTA system, including cutting bus service by 20%, reducing MARC, commuter local bus, and paratransit service, and cutting the MTA’s already strained six year capital budget for critical safety needs by $150 million. We, the undersigned, urge rejection of these cuts, which would be devastating to many Marylanders that live in low-income communities, communities of color, and people with disabilities.

Rather than take steps to relieve the strain of a veritable tsunami of challenges to Maryland’s most vulnerable communities, MTA’s plan would exacerbate residents’ difficulties and hobble the state’s recovery. TransitCenter found that 40% of transit commuters in Baltimore City and 35% of transit riders in the state work in essential job sectors, with hospital and health care workers being the largest share of riders. A large number of essential workers – nurses, grocery store workers, child care professionals, nursing care staff, and so many more – rely on public transit to get to their jobs. The proposed cuts would make it harder for these vital workers to get to their jobs, which would threaten their employment and exacerbate the devastation the pandemic has wrought to our economy. A shortage of these critical workers will also add strain to a healthcare system that is already spread too thin.

Maryland should be investing in more public transportation, not less. We should be increasing access to job centers from the communities most in need, not cutting it. We should be prioritizing cleaner transportation alternatives that reduce pollution and the health conditions that make marginalized communities especially vulnerable to the impacts of coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses like asthma. Vehicle emissions also create NOx that ultimately contributes roughly one-third of the nitrogen pollution to the region’s rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Among the problematic cuts to service, the proposed changes eliminate any route from Baltimore City (the jurisdiction with the highest reliance on public transportation) to Annapolis. Even in its current state, public transit to Annapolis is extremely limited, but at least it was available and provided mobility services. With the cuts, Annapolis would become inaccessible by public transportation, limiting the ability of many Marylanders to participate in our state’s Democracy. Public participation is always essential to a free and fair government, but never more so than in a crisis.

In reference to Maryland’s essential workers, the Maryland Transit Caucus has stated in their letter to the administration following the proposed cuts: We rely on them. They rely on MTA. We call on the administration to take immediate action. Funding from the Transportation Trust Fund should be allocated to public transit that benefits all Marylanders, rather than to highway expansion and construction projects that benefit only the wealthiest.

Signed,

  1. Maryland League of Conservation Voters
  2. Maryland Sierra Club
  3. Common Cause Maryland
  4. Clean Water Action
  5. Climate Law & Policy Project
  6. Safe Skies Maryland
  7. Maryland Legislative Coalition
  8. Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
  9. Maryland Campaign for Human Rights
  10. Coalition for Smarter Growth
  11. Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition
  12. Transit Choices
  13. Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
  14. Maryland United for Peace and Justice
  15. Sunrise Movement Baltimore
  16. League of Women Voters Maryland
  17. Maryland Nonprofits
  18. Nuclear Information and Resource Service
  19. Labor Network for Sustainability
  20. Family League of Baltimore
  21. Bikemore
  22. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
  23. Maryland Center on Economic Policy
  24. Job Opportunities Task Force
  25. NAACP Maryland State Conference
  26. Public Justice Center
  27. Our Revolution Maryland
  28. Indivisible Baltimore
  29. Indivisible Howard County
  30. Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
  31. Echotopia, LLC
  32. Maryland Conservation Council
  33. Ji’Aire’s Workgroup
  34. Indivisible Towson
  35. ATU Local 1300
  36. Food and Water Watch Action
  37. Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  38. Disability Rights Maryland
  39. Consumer Advocates for Ride Services
  40. Progressive Maryland
  41. Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Mary
  42. Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) – Baltimore
  43. WISE Maryland
  44. Maryland Climate Justice WIng
  45. Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee
  46. Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
  47. Accessible Resources for Independence
  48. League for People with Disabilities
  49. Climate X-Change Maryland
  50. The Nature Conservancy – Maryland/DC Chapter
  51. Saltzberg Consulting
  52. Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  53. Sunrise Howard County
  54. Baltimore 350
  55. The Parent and Community Advisory Board, Baltimore City Public Schools
  56. Sunrise Rockville
  57. Marylanders for Patient Rights
  58. Bus Workgroup 14
  59. South Baltimore Community Land Trust
  60. Free Your Voice
  61. Represent Maryland
  62. Green Team at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Baltimore
  63. Baltimore People’s Climate Movement
  64. The Climate Reality Project: Baltimore Chapter
By |2020-09-15T13:24:20-04:00September 15th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , |0 Comments