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Senator Paul G. Pinsky ... your Annapolis

In this issue:

...Your Annapolis Advocate

Dear Friends:

Last week marked the end of the legislative session in Annapolis. Despite opposition from Governor Hogan, we made some significant progress. Below you'll find a recap, but first I wanted to alert you to two major demonstrations occurring in Washington, D.C. over the next two weeks.



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March for Science & People's Climate Movement

Attacks on science have grown since Donald Trump took office. The President's budget request slashes funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 20% and devastates research programs around the country. NASA's Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt would be hard hit as multiple programs are slashed. Read more about the proposed cuts here
The March for Science is this Saturday, Earth Day, April 22 in Washington. The goal is to demonstrate support for funding and accessibility of science. Click here for more information and to register if you plan to attend.
One week later is the Peoples Climate March on April 29. Click here for information and to register. There will be a sign making event at the College Park Sierra Club office on Thursday, April 27 at 5:30. A Maryland contingent will meet at the Silver Spring Metro on Saturday, April 29 before heading down to the March. (More info here) Show your resistance to President Trump and his fossil fuel agenda.

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Legislative Recap

The Environment and the Chesapeake Bay

The Governor signed legislation I co-sponsored to permanently ban fracking (natural gas extraction). The Governor vetoed a bill I co-sponsored last year, increasing the state's reliance on clean energy. This year the legislature overrode the governor's veto.

President Trump's budget proposal severely cut Chesapeake Bay cleanup funding. Maryland's congressional delegation issued a bipartisan condemnation of the cuts, but Governor Hogan has been silent. In response, I sponsored a senate joint resolution condemning the cuts and calling on the Governor to publicly oppose them. The resolution passed.

Last year the legislature ordered a count (stock assessment) of the Bay's oyster population. This year the Department of Natural Resources proposed reducing oyster sanctuary boundaries before the stock assessment has even begun. In response, the General Assembly passed a bill prohibiting changes to the sanctuaries until the assessment is complete. The Governor allowed the bill to become law without his signature. I opposed a Governor-supported bill easing penalties for oyster poachers which was ultimately rejected in committee.

These anti-Bay efforts along with the Hogan Administration's firing or reassigning of Bay scientists revealed a true antipathy towards Bay cleanup efforts.

Public Health

Antibiotic resistance, the creation of 'superbugs,' is a growing public health threat. This problem is caused, in large measure, by adding antibiotics to animal feed given to chickens, cattle, and swine who aren't sick. This three year battle to remove these antibiotics ended in successful legislation banning such use in Maryland. I was pleased to join grassroots efforts and served as lead-sponsor of the bill.

Labor, Business, and Taxes

A bill finally passed this year to require paid sick leave for all workers. As a cosponsor of the proposal, I believe that no one should ever have to make the choice between staying home to nurse a sick child and going to work to put food on the table.

Corporations often avoid paying any corporate income tax in Maryland. Two bills, I introduced, would have required that they pay their portion. Another bill I sponsored would ensure that hedge fund managers pay their fair share of taxes, which they are now able to dodge. This reform was supported by both presidential candidates during the campaign. All three bills failed. A rule prohibiting internet service providers (e.g. Comcast, Verizon) from selling your browsing history was reversed by President Trump. Legislation I co-sponsored in response passed the Senate, but failed in a House committee.

These defeats signal the continued stranglehold the corporate sector has over state policy.

Education Reforms

Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy Devos have proposed privatizing schools with vouchers and for-profit charters, as well as increasing our reliance on standardized testing. In response, the legislature passed legislation to block these proposals. As Education subcommittee chair, I led the fight to pass the bill. After the Governor vetoed the bill, which may suggest Governor Hogan's support of such positions, the General Assembly overrode the veto.  I also cosponsored separate legislation to limit standardized testing to provide more time for instruction. The bill passed.

Criminal Justice

Too many nonviolent defendants remain in prison before trial because they can't afford bail while many dangerous defendants can afford bail and get out of jail when when they should be detained. The Court of Appeals issued a new ruling directing low or no bail for non-violent prisoners who are not flight risks and requiring dangerous defendants to remain behind bars while awaiting trial, rather than setting bail. I led the efforts to support the court's new policy and opposed a reactionary bill supported by the bail bondsmen to reverse the rule. Despite a close vote and strong opposition, the bill passed the Senate, but thankfully failed in the House of Delegates.

President Trump's immigration enforcement policy has spread fear throughout immigrant communities. I cosponsored the Trust Act to ensure that state and county law enforcement do not hold undocumented immigrants beyond their scheduled release date, absent a federal warrant. I am sorely disappointed that the bill failed.

Elections and Money in Politics

I sponsored legislation to allow people to register to vote on election day (already allowed during early voting.) The Senate and House of Delegates didn't work out their differences before the end of the session, so the bill failed.

I introduced the Democracy Resolution (SJ4) calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizen’s United decision which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of their revenue (e.g. your cable bill) in political campaigns. As a result of House inaction, the resolution failed.

Close to Home

Locally, the delegates and I were able to secure funding for the construction of a Veterans Memorial and to renovate the Maryland Milestones Heritage Center, both in Hyattsville. We also secured funds for the Maryland Multicultural Youth Center to expand a community center in Riverdale.

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