The 2019 Maryland General Assembly session closed with the passage of several key bills benefitting working families and protecting our environment. With its conclusion, we once again can clearly see how our District 36 delegation of state legislators is out of sync with the rest of the state and has little to no political leverage or capital that is demonstrated by voting records that are lacking strategic foresight and antithetical to the interest of Eastern Shore constituents. There are a number of examples of how our District 36 legislators continue to fail to meet the needs of working families. The delegation’s failure to support a number bills to ensure safe and healthy futures for our kids and grandkids is troubling.
Thousands of Marylanders across the state will get help making ends meet and many working families will be lifted out of poverty with the implementation of “Fight for $15” (HB166/SB280). Contrary to the assertions put forth by opposing special interest groups, raising minimum wage will benefit the economy as families will have, among other benefits, more money to spend on goods and services. It has been shown that raising the minimum wage will not reduce employment opportunities. For example, Seattle’s unemployment rate hit an 8-year low after adopting a $15 minimum wage. How did our District 36 delegation vote on this bill to help the Shore’s working families to make ends meet? NO.
Maryland proudly is the first state to pass a bill prohibiting food services and schools from selling and providing food and beverages in polystyrene products (HB 109). Food service providers will be required to use eco-friendly containers beginning July 1, 2020. With the passage of this bill, the hard work of the majority of Maryland legislators overcame opposition from the Maryland Retailers Association and other special interest groups enabling Maryland to be our nation’s leader in protecting our Bay, communities, and future generations. Opposition to the bill was based, in part, on a short-term increase in costs. However, this initial sacrifice and inconvenience is far outweighed by the long-term benefit. Sacrificing a few more dollars now will prevent large expenditures later for fixing our environment and benefitting the public interest. How did our District 36 delegation vote on this bill to protect our environment for generations to come? NO.
The majority of state legislators voted to overturn Governor Larry Hogan’s Executive Order requiring schools to start after Labor Day (SB128). While I personally have always supported a post-Labor Day start to the school year, local communities should have the ability to make this important decision for their own students and families. How did our District 36 delegation vote on this bill and the override veto vote? NO.
These are just a few examples of how the voting records of our District 36 delegation during this last legislative session are not responsive to the needs of Eastern Shore working families and discriminatory in some instances. There are more examples where the District 36 delegation’s opposition to this session’s bills is not in the best interest of constituents: raising the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco products; establishing criteria for offshore wind projects and increased renewable energy and clean jobs; requiring background checks for all gun sales in Maryland and closing the background check loophole; enacting the Kirwan Commission recommendations to improve education; authorizing an individual’s request for aid in dying;
making all in-state tuition applicants eligible for Senatorial and Delegate Scholarships; and others. Although the next state and local elections are 3 years away, now is the time for all citizens to educate themselves about key issues impacting the health, safety, and livelihoods of our neighbors and future generations. Citizens need to stop voting for incumbents who continue to legislate against the best interests of their constituents. Constituents cannot afford to vote straight down the party line. We need to vote for candidates who will enable the Eastern Shore to gain leverage in our state legislature and therefore have the political clout to successfully introduce and pass a meaningful bill. All citizens should exercise their right to vote and support positions and candidates who will work for our communities rather than work to appease the special interest groups whose only objective is to increase their own bottom lines – at the risk of hurting our Bay, hurting our children, increasing socio-economic inequities, and intensifying the real daily struggles of our working families.
Crystal Crismond Woodward