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Community/ Government

Maryland LCV Hosts statewide Town Hall with special guest, Senator Chris Van Hollen about the benefits of the American Jobs Plan for all Marylanders

For Immediate Release

June 23, 2021

Maryland LCV Hosts statewide Town Hall with special guest, Senator Chris Van Hollen about the benefits of the American Jobs Plan for all Marylanders

Annapolis, MD– Over  a hundred Marylanders tuned in Tuesday afternoon for a virtual Town Hall with special guest Senator Chris Van Hollen to discuss the federal American Jobs Plan and how the plan will directly benefit Marylanders. Community leaders asked the Senator questions about  how he will champion this much-needed economic, environmental, and equity-driven policy.  

“Marylanders are urging our elected leaders to create good-paying jobs while tackling climate change and environmental racism,” said Kim Coble, Maryland LCV executive director. “We are grateful to Senator Van Hollen for his leadership on this essential policy. A large majority (83%) of Maryland voters are clear that they support the investments of the American Jobs Plan in climate, clean energy jobs, and justice.”

“It’s time for Congress to pass the American Jobs Plan and get millions of people back to work in high-quality jobs while investing in ambitious climate solutions, environmental justice, and clean energy,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV SVP of Government Affairs. “We are running out of time to tackle the climate crisis and address longstanding environmental injustice in this country.”

“As our country builds back from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have the chance to modernize and build our infrastructure for the 21st century while tackling climate change and creating good-paying jobs. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan lays the foundation for a more inclusive economy that expands opportunity for Marylanders and folks across our country. I’ve been proud to fight for many provisions within this plan, including legislation to create a national climate bank, cut energy costs for homeowners, create clean energy jobs and technology, and invest in efforts to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and boost our state’s economy. I am committed to working in Congress to see these provisions through and ensure a brighter future for every Marylander,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen.

“Access to clean water is essential to a better, healthier, more equitable future. Yet many children and families across the U.S. still do not have access to safe sanitation or lead-free water from their taps—especially in low-income communities of color,” said Becky Hammer, Senior Attorney & Deputy Director of Federal Water Policy at NRDC. “President Biden’s American Jobs Plan would replace 100% of the lead pipe and service lines and modernize the nation’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.”

“Preservation is not exclusively about the physical power of preserving historic buildings and sites,” said Nicholas Redding, President and CEO of Preservation Maryland. “Preservation is also a valuable workforce development tool; trained hands within trades careers are required to complete vital revitalization and restoration work across the state.”

“Between climate change, COVID-19, the economic crisis, and racial injustice, we find ourselves in the midst of an interconnected series of epidemics with shared, systemic roots. Unless those root causes are addressed, crises will continue to grow in those same frontline communities,” said Wandra Ashley-Williams, Maryland Regional Director of Climate XChange and Maryland State Conference NAACP. “With the American Jobs Plan, we have the opportunity to address these through Justice 40: the idea that 40% of the funding in the American Jobs Plan will go to local and frontline communities affected by climate change the most.”

Partners for this event included Strong Future Maryland, Maryland Forestry Foundation, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, Preservation MD, NAACP MSC, Climate XChange, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Potomac Conservancy, and NRDC.

This event was recorded and streamed live on facebook.

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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.

The American Jobs Plan will Build Maryland Back Better

The American Jobs Plan will Build Maryland Back Better

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card—assigning letter grades based on the physical condition and needed investments for improvement.

In 2021, Maryland received a lackluster “C” grade, and the country’s infrastructure as a whole fared even worse, earning a “C-“ grade.  The Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan would make an historic investment in addressing the nation’s significant infrastructure challenges and help to raise our grade.

The American Jobs Plan will mobilize the country to address the climate crisis and  long-standing and persistent racial injustice. The plan targets 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities. And the plan also invests in rural communities and communities impacted by the market-based transition to clean energy.

Sign the petition today asking our congressional leaders to lead the way on this critical legislation>>

Here is just a sampling of key areas where the plan has the potential to deliver big for Maryland:

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Maryland suffers from some of the worst public transit in the nation. Marylanders who take public transportation spend an extra 66.3% of their time commuting than those in cars and people of color are 2.7 times more likely to commute via public transportation. 

 

RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE: From 2010 to 2020, Maryland has experienced 31 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $10 billion in damages. The President is calling for $50 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and support communities’ recovery from disaster. The plan will upgrade and modernize America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems with a focus on green infrastructure and using nature and nature based systems. It will invest in rural small water systems, household wells, and wastewater systems, including drainage fields.

DRINKING WATER: Over the next 20 years, Maryland’s drinking water infrastructure will require $9.3 billion in additional funding. The American Jobs Plan includes a $111 billion national investment to ensure clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities. The plan will replace 100% of lead pipes and service lines. President Biden’s plan also provides $10 billion in funding to monitor and remediate PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) nationwide.

 

HOME ENERGY: In Maryland, an average low-income family spends 6-8% of their income on home energy costs (compared to the average Maryland family spending 1.8% of income). The AJP will upgrade low-income homes to make them more energy efficient, saving homeowners money.

 

ACCELERATE CHESAPEAKE BAY RESTORATION: A key component of this plan is to protect and, where necessary, restore nature-based infrastructure – our lands, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and coastal and ocean resources. There are over $1 billion in shovel ready projects in Maryland that could be financed through Clean Water State Revolving Funds with help from the American Jobs Plan.

 

GREEN JOBS: The plan will create a New Civilian Climate Corps. This $10 billion investment nationwide will put a new, diverse generation of Americans to work conserving our public lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, and advancing environmental justice.

 

The plan also promises significant upgrades for Maryland and other states in broadband access, manufacturing, clean energy jobs, home energy upgrades, and childcare assistance. You can find a comprehensive fact sheet on the plan’s benefits for Maryland here.

At Maryland LCV, we are committed to creatively and aggressively protecting the state’s land, air, water, and communities, and especially meeting the challenges of the climate crisis. We can’t reach those goals unless Maryland’s infrastructure is improved dramatically in a way that meets the needs of all our residents. The American Jobs Plan’s focus on climate, jobs, and justice positions it as a bold and much-needed investment in Maryland and the country.

Download our Maryland factsheet on the American Jobs Plan here.

And check out the recent polling on what Marylanders think of the American Jobs Plan here:

  • 83% of voters across the state support the American Jobs Plan
  • 83% think it’s important that Congress takes action to address climate change
  • 85% support investments in clean energy jobs
  • 78% support ensuring the benefits of climate and clean energy investments go to the environmental justice communities long exploited by polluters.

On June 22, 2021 we held a Town Hall with Senator Chris Van Hollen and on July 13 we held another Town Hall with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer with over 100 Marylanders at each event to talk about the American Jobs Plan and how it will affect Maryland. Watch the recordings here.

Voting by Mail in the Old Line State

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director of Maryland LCV

The June Primary has come and gone but the 2020 Election has barely hit its stride. Even as we are facing the rise and fall and rise again of COVID-19 infections, Marylanders are preparing to go to the polls in November.

To pass strong environmental legislation, we must have the right elected officials in office. Nothing is more important to that goal than a robust election where voters’—all voters’— voices are heard and champions are elected that reflect their  conservation values over the interests of those who would pave over forests and eliminate environmental protections. 

To advocate for a fair, free, and safe election, Maryland League of Conservation Voters is part of a large and diverse coalition called “Everyone Votes Maryland.” We hope you will engage in our campaign — including spreading the word — to ensure its success. 

Looking forward through this public health crisis to a critical national election, it is essential that every registered voter make a plan on how they will have their vote heard.

Check your registration

All registered Maryland voters will be sent mail-in ballot applications in advance of the November 3rd election.  Since ballot and ballot applications will not be forwarded,  it’s important that everyone make sure that their registration is up to date. 

  1. Are you registered to vote in Maryland?
  2. Have you moved since the last election?

Check your status here: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch

Apply for an absentee ballot:

You don’t have to wait for your absentee ballot application to arrive in the mail.

Voting by mail is the best and safest way to make your voice heard. Not only is it secure, but it provides a guaranteed paper record of every vote in the case of a recount. In addition, it allows voters time to sit with their ballots and do research, which is especially important for voters with lower literacy levels, or whose first language is not English.

Visit: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1

  •         To receive a ballot in the mail, you must request a ballot by no later than Tuesday, October 27.
  •         Ballots can also be e-mailed if they are requested on or before Thursday, October 30.
  •         You will need to know:
  1. Your voter type (citizenship, military affiliation, etc.)
  2. Your name
  3. Your date of birth
  4. Your State ID number and issue date. This could be a drivers license or MVA-issued ID.
  5. Note that if you don’t already have one, the website will send you to a Maryland Voter Registration Application, which will require an original signature and can not be e-mailed or faxed.
  6. Your address
  7. Your political party (if any)
  8. A contact phone number and e-mail address

You will be asked how you would like to receive your ballot, and be required to swear or affirm that your information is correct: That you are a US Citizen, a Maryland resident, at least 16 years old, and you do not have a current conviction that prevents you from being eligible to vote.

  •   Note: previously convicted felons who have been released on parole or who have completed their time served are eligible to vote by Maryland state law.

Voting by Mail

Once you receive your ballot, you will be able to review the candidates for office and cast your vote safely and securely.

  •         Your ballot must be postmarked on or before November 3, 2020
  •         For ballots sent by mail, postage will be pre-paid. No additional postage will be required.
  •         For ballots received by e-mail, voters will be required to print and mail their ballots with the appropriate postage (2 stamps)
  •         Ballots should be signed and filled out with a black pen
  •         Ballots MUST be signed to be considered valid.

Voting in Person

Some people prefer to vote in person, or have disabilities which make it essential to have in-person voting options. Not to worry!  There will be opportunities for you to visit a voting center.

  •         Each jurisdiction will have voting centers open for early voting from October 22 – October 29th
  •         In-person voting options will also be available on November 3rd.
  •         Voting centers will require voters to wear a mask in order to enter the facility, and social-distancing will be maintained.
  •         Ballot marking devices will be available for voters with disabilities
  •         Same-day registration will be available during early voting and on election day
  •         Voters registering on-site may be required to fill out provisional ballots.

Important Dates:

  • Absentee ballots will begin being mailed out on September 19th
  • Last day to pre-register to vote is October 13th– you will still be able to register in person on election day at your polling location
  • Early Voting for the General Election – Thursday, October 22, 2020 through Thursday, October 29, 2020 from 8 am until 8 pm.
  • Last day to request an absentee ballot is October 29th
  • November 3 General Election – Your absentee ballot must be postmarked by this day

A great how-to video on absentee ballot request from Speaker Adrienne Jones can be found here.

We need to stay vigilant and focused on ensuring every Marylander has the necessary tools and resources to vote. Stay tuned to see updates from us and our partners in Everyone Votes Maryland about the November elections. With so much at stake, we need all Marylanders to exercise their right to vote.  It is one of the best actions you can take to protect and restore Maryland’s land, air, water and communities.

Everyone Votes Maryland- Webinar

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us Wednesday night for the Everyone Votes Maryland- The State of Voting webinar. We had a great turnout and went through the ins and outs of voting for the primary and general election.

As Maryland continues to grapple with challenges of the COVID-19 virus, a number of emergency measures have been put in place to protect public health and every Marylander’s right to vote in the upcoming June 2, 2020 Primary Election. This webinar was hosted on May 13, 2020 by the Everyone Votes Maryland coalition.

And here are the slides from the webinar for download or print.

Here’s the recorded webinar:

Topics discussed include changes made to the upcoming election, the impact these changes have on different groups of voters, and how to ensure you are able to exercise your right to vote.

Featured Speakers:

  • Kristen Harbeson, MD League of Conservation Voters
  • Nicole Hanson-Mundell, Out for Justice
  • Ben Jackson, Disability Rights MD
  • Joanne Antoine, Common Cause MD
  • Ralph Watkins, League of Women Voters MD
  • Qiana Johnson, Life After Release
  • Rev. Kobi Little, NAACP
  • Baltimore Sergio España, ACLU MD
  • Cristi Demowicz, Represent MD
  • Emily Scarr, Maryland PIRG
  • Yaheiry Mora, CASA
  • Tasmin Swanson, Baltimore Votes
  • Jay Hutchins, Planned Parenthood of MD

    Attendees were provided with opportunity to ask questions at the end of the webinar.

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:

  

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:

  

Circles within circles

Weekly Counter

The weekly counter of our Political Director

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director

There are a lot of analogies to describe Annapolis during the legislative session. One of my favorites is thinking of it as a dance: spinning, and turning, passing hand to hand; dozens of interactions, sometimes brief and sometimes lengthy, that ultimately creates a community. Circles within circles, everyone relentlessly moving through the steps of the dance that does not end until Sine Die, the last day of session. 

I was reminded of the nature of the community last week. When an emergency took me away from Session immediately after it began, the legislative work didn’t miss a beat. The Maryland LCV family and our coalition partners all stepped in to make sure that, while I took care of urgent family business, none of the important work we do together suffered: the dance continued. 

Coming back on Monday I was able to jump right back into the circle, only slightly disoriented with having missed a few rounds of the routine. The community is also extremely caring: While we all have our roles – legislator, aide, and advocate – we all are people first, and the human connections can be both strong and affirming. It’s one of the many reasons I love this job and this world. 

This week’s work was visiting legislative offices with the “blue backs” (in the House) and “white backs” (in the Senate) of our priority bills. These are literally copies of the bills, where legislators can sign their names as cosponsors before the bills are introduced.

 Asking for cosponsors helps us to determine the level of support for a particular bill (signing on as a co-sponsor is a strong commitment of support), and an opportunity to answer the questions that legislators and their staffs may have on our bills. Walking into their offices also, sometimes, gives the legislators a chance to say “hey! I wanted to talk to you about this other bill I’m thinking about. Do you have a minute?” 

Last week we were walking around two priority bills: the Plastic Bag ban and the ban on Chlorpyrifos – which I will talk more about in the weeks to come. Both of these are just about ready to move to their next step – being “read out” on the floor and assigned to a committee for a hearing date. We’ll be doing the same process next week with other bills, as the steps of the dance become ever more complicated (and interesting!).

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