Issues

Environment

I am committed to taking bold action to address the climate crisis, reduce waste, better regulate pesticides and PFAS chemicals, and protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Read my full environmental statement.

My 2022 Environmental Bills

HB387: Pesticide Regulation - Transfer to Department of the Environment

Transfer pesticide regulation authority and resources from the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and authorizing MDE, in consultation with MDA and the Maryland Department of Health, to enact policies regulating, limiting or prohibiting pesticides. While MDA has expertise in how pesticides are used in agriculture, MDE has broader expertise in toxic substances. 

HB141: ​​Equity in Transportation Sector - Guidelines and Analyses (The Transportation Equity Act of 2022)

Transportation is not only a way to get from one place to another, but it plays a key role in economic development and the environment. But as with so many things, the benefits and consequences of the state's transportation decisions do not accrue equally to everyone. There is a long history of disparate impact in transportation decisions, from highways running through Black communities, creating health and safety hazards in those communities, to the cancellation of the Red Line in 2015. The federal Title VI requirements should prevent disparate impact in transit, but they’re inconsistently enforced, don’t cover other transportation like highways, and only require analysis after transportation decisions are made. We need to make sure that Maryland's transportation decisions are made with equity in the forefront, rather than as an afterthought.

HB141 makes equity a core part of all transportation planning statewide. It adds equity as a goal in the Maryland Transportation Plan, requires reporting on racial and ethic disparities and impact on persons with disabilities in the annual Attainment Report, creates a Commission on Transportation Equity, and ensures a transit equity analysis, cost benefit analysis, and outreach to impacted communities are done before any major service change or reduction or cancellation of a capital expansion project exceeding certain thresholds.

HB363: Attorney General - Climate Change Actions - Authorization

The fossil fuel industry knew as far back as the 1960s that fossil fuel emissions would lead to climate change, with catastrophic consequences. Yet they chose to conceal what they knew and deceive the public through decades of climate misinformation. Now that the climate crisis is upon us, the taxpayers should not have to pay for damage due to the deceptive and fraudulent actions of the fossil fuel industry. HB363 authorizes the Attorney General to file suit against publicly-traded companies and their subsidiaries that contributed to the climate crisis through their unlawful actions, and to hire outside counsel if needed on a contingency basis.

Retail Service Stations – New Construction – Setbacks and Electric Charging Stations

Mitigates the health and environmental impacts of gas stations by requiring all new gas stations over a certain size to be set back at least 1000 feet from schools, day care centers, parks, playgrounds, churches, hospitals, outdoor recreation areas, residential property, and other gas stations. It also requires all new gas stations to install at least one level 2 EV charging station for each gas pump.

Maryland Energy Administration – Energy and Water Efficiency Standards – Alterations

Requires the Maryland Energy Administration to adopt water and energy efficiency standards for a variety of products, including portable electric spas, air purifiers, commercial dishwashers, commercial steam cookers, faucets, and residential ventilating fans. Requires the Maryland Energy Administration to review standards for electric vehicle supply equipment and high CRI fluorescent lamps and authorizes them to adopt standards for those if determined needed by the outcome of the review.

Healthcare

Everyone should be able to get healthcare when and where they need it regardless of ability to pay. I think single payer is morally, logically, and economically the best way to achieve that. The insurance industry adds no value to healthcare; there’s nothing that can be achieved through insurance that can’t be achieved more simply and economically by a single-payer system. In fact, insurance actively harms people, because their business model and their profits depend on targeted denial of care.

Eliminating the insurance layer will achieve cost savings through eliminating the need for profit, simplifying billing and administration, and ability to negotiate. It will also achieve cost savings by encouraging people to seek treatment earlier before a health issue reaches the need for emergency care. The question is not “how can we pay for it,” but “how can we afford to continue the status quo.”

Achieving single-payer at the state level is more complicated than it would be as a federal program, but it can be done. Various sources outside of state control, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and federal employee insurance, must be accounted for in some fashion, through waivers or other ways of aligning them with the state plan. The ERISA law means that states cannot mandate that employers cease offering their own plans and participate in the state plan. However, much work has been done on overcoming these hurdles in other states, including Washington, New York, and Maine. By building on that work, Maryland can achieve a state-based single-payer healthcare system.

Equity must be baked in to any healthcare plan to overcome the vast healthcare disparities that are the consequence of centuries of systemic oppression.

My 2022 Healthcare Bills

HB610: Public Health - Commission on Universal Health Care

HB610 creates a commission which will study work that has been done in other states and develop a plan for single-payer, universal healthcare in Maryland. The plan shall provide comprehensive, affordable, and high–quality publicly financed health care coverage for all residents of the state in a seamless and equitable manner, regardless of income, assets, health status, citizenship or immigration status, or availability of other health care coverage. The Commission is directed to:

  • Consider how to incorporate equity and address racial disparities;
  • Consider how to improve access, particularly in urban and rural areas with limited access;
  • Develop a benefit package that includes primary care, preventive care, chronic care, acute episodic care, reproductive care, including pregnancy, birth control, and abortion services, and hospital services;
  • Develop a transition plan, including how to suspend the Exchange and incorporate federal payments, as well as a plan for transition workers displaced by changes to the healthcare system.
  • Recommend legislation required to establish the plan.

Equity, Civil Rights and Social Justice

All Marylanders have a right to a fair and just society regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexuality, age, disability, income, religion, citizenship, or immigration status. I am committed to redressing the inequities that result from over 400 years of systemic oppression and ensuring that the law protects and supports all Marylanders. Equity is not a separate issue; every issue we work on must be viewed through an equity lens.

My 2022 Equity & Justice Bills

HB141: ​​Equity in Transportation Sector - Guidelines and Analyses (The Transportation Equity Act of 2022)

Transportation is not only a way to get from one place to another, but it plays a key role in economic development and the environment. But as with so many things, the benefits and consequences of the state's transportation decisions do not accrue equally to everyone. There is a long history of disparate impact in transportation decisions, from highways running through Black communities, creating health and safety hazards in those communities, to the cancellation of the Red Line in 2015. The federal Title VI requirements should prevent disparate impact in transit, but they’re inconsistently enforced, don’t cover other transportation like highways, and only require analysis after transportation decisions are made. We need to make sure that Maryland's transportation decisions are made with equity in the forefront, rather than as an afterthought.

HB141 makes equity a core part of all transportation planning statewide. It adds equity as a goal in the Maryland Transportation Plan, requires reporting on racial and ethic disparities and impact on persons with disabilities in the annual Attainment Report, creates a Commission on Transportation Equity, and ensures a transit equity analysis, cost benefit analysis, and outreach to impacted communities are done before any major service change or reduction or cancellation of a capital expansion project exceeding certain thresholds.

HB84: Education – Crimes on School Grounds – Application

HB84 protects students from being charged under the “disrupting school activities” statute. The current law criminalizes typical adolescent behavior. Students can be charged with a misdemeanor and face possible jail time for things like storming out of class. Young people need to learn that’s not appropriate behavior, but they shouldn’t be processed into the criminal justice system. There are huge racial disparities: 82% of students charged under this law are Black students and students of color. 

HB304: Criminal Law - Failure to Obey a Reasonable and Lawful Order

Maryland law makes it a crime to fail to obey a “reasonable and lawful order” from a police officer. The “failure to obey” statute is vague, overly broad, and often abused by the police. Ways that “failure to obey” is misused include:

  • Escalating a situation to provoke a response that will justify an arrest;
  • Creating probable cause to search an individual when no other crime has been committed and the Fourth Amendment would otherwise prohibit a search;
  • Arresting unhoused people who have committed no crime to remove them from a public area;
  • Targeting Black, brown, and trans people who are viewed as “suspicious” because of an officer’s personal explicit or implicit biases.

HB304 alters the law so that the “failure to obey” statute only applies in emergency situations when there is risk of harm.  It also removes incarceration as a penalty and creates lower tiered fines for 1st and 2nd offenses.

Reproductive Rights

The current Supreme Court, dominated by radical-right activist justices, is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade when they return with a decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case. In Maryland we are better than many states, because the affirmative right to choose is codified in state law. But even here there is more work to do to ensure everyone has access to the services to ensure the full range of options to choose whether, when, and how to conceive, give birth, and raise a family, including the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

I will always stand up for the full range of reproductive rights and access. We can disagree on a personal level about abortion, but each person should be able to make the choice based on their own values and needs. The government should not be controlling our bodies and our lives.

Not only is reproductive care a right, but it's also basic and necessary healthcare. Everyone should have not only the guaranteed right, but the access to obtain reproductive care when and where it's needed. My Commission on Universal Healthcare bill will require that the universal healthcare plan developed by the commission will cover all  reproductive care.