Testimony of Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) – Joint House and Senate Montgomery County Delegation Priorities Hearing – November 15, 2021

Good evening members of the Delegation:

Thank you for receiving our testimony. My name is Michael DeLong and I am the President of the Montgomery County Young Democrats, an organization of young Democrats ages 14-34 working to ensure freedom and opportunity for all and get young people involved in politics. These are extraordinary times. During the upcoming legislative session we urge you to champion major reforms and show that government can meaningfully improve Marylanders’ lives. 

MCYD thanks you for your work to combat police brutality earlier this year, but the fight is far from over. Currently Maryland police officers have qualified immunity, which means they are protected from civil lawsuits and can even collect their pensions if they lose their jobs for abuse or misconduct. We urge you to end this get-out-of-jail-free card for abusive officers and build on the historic policing reform that you passed last session. 

Now that the eviction moratorium is over, eviction filings are rising and many more renters are struggling to stay in their homes. Tenants need to be protected from unjust treatment, not just in this county but across the state. Delegate Wilkins’s Stable Homes Act prohibits landlords from evicting tenants with just cause, like breaking their lease, damaging the property, or good faith efforts to reclaim the property for other years. The Legislature should enact it to grant protections to all Maryland renters. 

Paid family leave should be another top priority. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and workers, employers, and the general public benefit when people have paid time off to care for themselves and their family members. Employees should have at least 12 weeks of paid leave; the Time to Care Act has been introduced in the past couple of sessions and it should be passed. Paid family and medical leave means not having to choose between paychecks and families, keeps people in the labor force, and leads to a stronger economy, more workplace equality, and improved family values. Furthermore, the problem of student loan debt is looming over too many young people’s lives, and we urge you to take measures to reduce it.

We cannot remain indifferent to the environment and to the effects of climate change, which are already impacting Maryland–examples include increasing flooding in Annapolis and the erosion of various islands in the Chesapeake. The Legislature should reduce carbon emissions and oppose Hogan’s highway expansion plan, which will result in increased pollution and traffic. Finally, legislators should consider allowing ranked choice voting for Montgomery County elections, if the Council determines it is a good reform. 

Thank you very much for accepting our testimony. Please contact us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com if you have any questions.