On Saturday, January 20th, UULM-MD held its Annual Legislative Kickoff, UU Faith Forward: Building a New Way Together. Senator William "Will" Smith, Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, was our keynote speaker and 2024 Lawmaker of the Year. In his speech, he embodied many of our UU Values, and talked about Juvenile Justice Reform and what tweaks he thought would be possible to fix the legislation that was passed in 2022. He then answered questions about how the budget shortfall would affect the upcoming session.
This year, the kickoff was hybrid with about 30 members in attendance (roomies) and 70 online connections (zoomies). Our breakout sessions were also hybrid, including those online and those in-person. We had several lawmakers attend including: Senator Sarah Elfreth (Annapolis), Delegate Jessica Feldmark (Howard County), Delegate Pam Guzzone (Howard County), Delegate Ken Kerr (Frederick), Delegate Jennifer White Holland (Baltimore County), who also spoke on Prescription Drug Board, and Delegate Greg Wims (Montgomery County).
We also said thank you to Rev. Diane Teichert, who will be stepping down at the end of the session from serving as the Issues Lead to spend more time with her grandchildren. Rev. Diane was instrumental in our re-structuring three years ago. We will miss her innovative spirit.
Worship: Rev. Anastassia Zinke, UU Church of Annapolis
Keynote Speaker and 2024 Lawmaker of the Year: Senator, William "Will" C. Smith, Chair, Judicial Proceedings Committee
Climate Change: Mariah Shriner, Campaign Manager, Maryland Sierra Club
Criminal Justice Reform: The Honorable, Phil Caroom, Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform
Gun Violence Prevention: Ellen Ginsberg, Moms Demand Action
Health Care: Del. Jennifer White Holland & Catherine Kirk Robins, Maryland Citizens Health Initiative
Immigration: Jose Coronado-Flores, Casa de Maryland
Medical Aid in Dying: Donna Smith, Field and Legislative Manager, Compassion and Choices
Call to Action: Rev. Dayna Edwards, UU Congregation of Cedar Lane
First Testimony Submitted
Last Friday, we submitted our first testimony of the 2024 Legislative Session. We submitted testimony on HB 92: Resources and Education for All Prisons (REAP) Act, which would allow people in prison to apply for Pell Grants to pay for college credits.
In addition, we signed onto our first Climate Change Legislation: SB 146 - Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Eligible Sources - Alterations (Reclaim Renewable Energy Act of 2024).
We had our Second Legi-Con on Monday, January 15th to support HB 416/SB 432 Public Schools - Active Shooter Safety Drills or Trainings - Requirements. We had 11 kids and 10 adults. Rev. Karen Lee Scrivo and Lora Powell-Haney M. Div, who is our new Campaign Manager, facilitated adult discussion on responsible gun ownership, parenting children on gun awareness and safety. Jan Bird provided background information on gun issues.
Our Coordinator, Ashley Egan, and our Lead Advocate for Gun Violence Prevention, Ken Shilling, facilitated the two circles of youth discussion. We let the youth lead their own discussions, and only prompted them to start a new topic, or to draw what was meaningful in their discussions.
We did a role-playing simulation "Pass this Bill in Less Than 9 Minutes." It was challenging and confusing —a normal legislative process—with friendly and hostile amendments. A couple of our youth made suggestions on how we can improve the role-playing!! They were engaged in the process!
Karen Herren from Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence (MDPGV) gave our group a "tour" of House and Senate. As it happened, Karen Herren herself was the "tour". She ably demonstrated how to establish relationships, even with staff. She recruited a staffer on Senate Finance committee to explain the Senate Committee process.
We met with, the bill's sponsor, Delegate Jared Solomon for a very generous hour. He engaged the youth in discussing bills pertinent to them. He mentioned that Maryland could be the second state to pass trauma-informed active shooter legislation. All in all, a wonderful way to begin the new session and a new lifetime of advocacy for the next generation.
MAJR Virtual Lobby Night -
Tonight, Monday January 22, 7:00 PM,
Register at this LINK
MOM's Demand Action
Maryland Advocacy Day
January 30th, 2024 at 9am
Register Here: bit.ly/2024AD
Maryland Sierra Club
Lobby Night Kickoff
February 7th at 7pm.
Register here by February 6th