The 2023 Legislative Session kicked off on January 11. And we have many new legislative leaders (as well as new Moore administration members) to get to know!
Our priorities are...
- informed by our mission, core values and principles of racial equity & inclusion.
- amplified in partnership with like-minded coalitions including Renters United Maryland, the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition and the Trans Rights Advocacy Coalition.
- driven by client experience and on-the-ground staff perspective.
- able to move when we have leaders in the legislature who are driven to act.
- influenced by the issues that gain momentum as the session progresses.
In addition to the priority areas listed below, we are staying on top of issues in criminal justice reform (such as expungement) and civil rights matters (such as housing anti-discrimination).
Access to Health Care
pass the TRANS HEALTH EQUITY ACT
- Like last year, we support expanding Maryland Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming care, an essential health benefit according to the federal government. This bill that dramatically increases mental wellbeing, reduces suicidality and saves lives. 24% of trans Marylanders are evicted or denied housing because they are transgender. Across our country, 41% of Black trans people have been homeless and nearly half of them have attempted suicide. More than any other single group, Black trans women are exponentially more at risk for being attacked and murdered.
provide equitable health CARE for immigrants, regardless of status
- We stand with CASA of Maryland in support efforts to expand meagre health insurance options for immigrants, both through Medicaid and the Health Benefit Exchange. Put simply: Health care is a human right.
make telehealth permanently & equitably accessible
- The benefit of access to telehealth (by video and by phone) during the pandemic, particularly for underserved communities, has been profound. We'll support the continuation of both forms of telehealth broadly accessible across all health professions.
Harm Reduction Practices
allow Overdose prevention sites
- In 2011, there were 26 recorded deaths just from fentanyl in our state. By 2020, there were 2,342 deaths, with the largest increases in Black and Hispanic communities. We support the introduction of Overdose Prevention Sites in Maryland, where people can use substances with immediate access to life saving interventions, medical care, emotional support and non-judgmental, therapeutic relationships.
decriminalize DRUG PARAPHERNALIA
- We support decriminalizing the possession of items that could be used to consume drugs, such as syringes and needles. This saves lives, reduces barriers to housing and employment and prevents the spread of infectious diseases. With our partners at Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition (BHRC), we successfully advocated to pass this bill in 2021. The Governor vetoed it and the General Assembly refused to take up overriding the veto. We'll push forward in 2023!
expand the GOOD SAMARITAN LAW
- We support protections both for people who help others who are experiencing an overdose AND the person experiencing the overdose. Nothing, including matters such as parole and probation, should prevent a person from getting help in a time-sensitive and life-threatening situation.
enable Local "Just Cause" eviction protection
- We stand with Renters United Maryland in supporting the right for local jurisdictions to prohibit evictions without a "just cause." As it stands, landlords can chose not to renew a resident's lease without a reasonable or legal justification. Evictions like these are often used as retaliation against tenants who complain or organize. (Baltimore City already has this law on the books.)
Expand access to the state's rent escrow process (Tenant Safety Act)
- This bill will allow groups of tenants to join together to sue for repairs of dangerous housing defects common to multiple units.
Stop illegally operating landlords from using eviction court
- This bill would require landlords to present a valid rental license at the trial of any residential eviction action. We successfully advocated to pass this bill in 2022, but Governor Hogan vetoed it. It's coming back this session!
Budget, Budget, Budget!
See For Yourself: A high-level summary of the FY2024 State Budget as presented on January 20, 2023 here.
All kinds of issues are impacted by state funding, as we all know. Our ears are to the ground about potential movement regarding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, ACIS, as well as SNAP and TDAP benefits and many topics around the healthcare workforce of our state. One thing's for certain: There's never a shortage of issues to address through policy & advocacy!
Share your story, experience or perspective
How your story helps
"No-one wants to hear from me - they want to hear from YOU! People sharing real experiences with legislators is the most impactful way to influence legislation. They need to know there is a problem to be solved.” - Joanna Diamond, Director of Public Policy