The Maryland Legislature Should Call a Special Legislative Session

We, the Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD), urge the Maryland legislature to hold a special session before the regular session, to deal with the crises gripping our state and county.

MCYD is a diverse group of young adults who are passionate about making our community a better place through political activism and organizing. We believe the Maryland General Assembly should convene a special legislative session before the planned regular session in January in order to meet the immediate needs of Marylanders during these unprecedented times.

Over the past four months, over 900,000 Marylanders have filed unemployment claims, many for the first time. Families have been devastated by death and illness, students and workplaces have had to adapt to teleworking, and the state is making difficult funding decisions as we plunge into a deep economic downturn. Black residents, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, face added trauma from the police violence and racism that has been at the forefront of policy conversations following the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people at the hands of police. Each day that passes without policing reform and other systematic changes puts Black Marylanders at risk and enables oppression and racism to permeate throughout the state. 

For too many Marylanders facing financial hardship during COVID-19, relief has not always been readily available. Undocumented immigrants, many of whom are essential workers, have been left out of relief programs, and unemployed residents were met with difficulties and delays with their unemployment benefits. As counties begin to reopen, we fear the imminent impact this will have on vulnerable residents who have been hanging on by a thread: At-risk employees will be forced to return to work, small businesses will close, people will lose their homes as evictions resume, and there will be many other long-lasting negative impacts to our communities without comprehensive, inclusive, statewide relief. 

Although Governor Hogan has the power to implement these much needed relief programs, he has made it clear that protecting Black, immigrant, and other vulnerable communities is not his priority. For this reason, we urge the State Legislature to convene a special legislative session to take action on these pressing matters: 

  • Override the Governor’s vetoes of important bills
  • Financial relief and protections, and fixing issues with unemployment insurance
  • Policing reform, including passing Anton’s Law, repealing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, limit use of force, and keeping law enforcement out of schools
  • Protecting the health & safety of all Marylanders, and ensuring the 2020 election is safe

We have had to deal with the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, as hundreds of thousands of residents have lost their jobs and many have had difficulties receiving their unemployment benefits or their federal stimulus checks.  

Millions have seen their schools and workplaces close, had to follow stay at home orders, or been forced to work in unsafe conditions. The state’s revenues have swiftly declined as the United States plunges into a deep economic downturn. And Maryland continues to be impacted by systemic racism and police brutality. 

We urge Maryland legislators to support a special legislative session soon to enact emergency measures for these crises. We also understand and share their concerns about the health and safety of legislators, staff members, and the public. Thousands of people gathered in Annapolis would provide an ideal environment for the coronavirus to spread. Therefore MCYD urges that this special legislative session be a virtual session, in order to prioritize public health.

It may not be normal to call for a special session of the Maryland General Assembly, in fact, it has not been called into a special session since the Civil War. But these are not normal times. The problems facing our state will only get more serious in the coming months if the legislature does not take action to solve them. 

Please reach out to us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com or at 925-708-1135 if you have any questions. 

Sincerely, 

Michael DeLong, President 

Teresa Woorman, Vice President

Stephen Schiavone, Treasurer

Kathleen Bender, Political Advocacy Director

Margie Delao, Communications Director

Keyna Anyiam, Membership Director

Steven Cenname, Secretary 

Patient Advocacy is Not a Choice, It is a Necessity

By Keyna Anyiam

I consider myself lucky that my mother is a nurse who has taught me how to advocate for my health, but not all are so lucky, and that is not right. It is no secret that healthcare and bedside manner is disproportionately administered in the United States (i.e. maternal mortality rate of black women versus white women), but during a pandemic, that is made especially clear. I have had a number of friends and family members denied care or whose needs have been disregarded due to their race, socioeconomic status or weight because of COVID-19. If the picture is not clear, let me paint it for you: You are in emergency care along with several other symptomatic people. You have been waiting for over 2 hours, minute after minute you see healthcare professionals taking care of young white women, athletic looking white men, and visibly upper-class people who have come in subtly decked out in designer street clothes. You become aware that your status as a black, overweight, working class citizen does not make you a priority here.  To make sure you are receiving fair and equal treatment when your health is on the line, I encourage you to learn how to advocate for yourself in a health setting using the tips and resources below.

When it comes to being your own patient advocate, here are a few tips to help get the care you need:

1)      Be an active participant in your health. Share your medications, allergies and any helpful information.

2)      Speak up. Trust your gut – you know your body and health best.

3)      It is ok to ask for help. Bring someone with you or look for someone with similar symptoms or someone who speaks the same language as you. There is strength in numbers.

4)      Be kind to yourself. Try not to be too hard on yourself; your pain is valid.

5)      Get involved. Knowing you are not alone is invaluable, share your story and knowledge, it helps! Reach out to patient advocacy groups in your area.

It is important for everyone to learn patient advocacy. Understanding the barriers of proper healthcare can be the difference between life and death. A 2016 case study shared by the National Institute of Health found that some are not given “the chance to advocate for the patients in terms of the rules and regulations given by the facility…” and “Sometimes patients will come and you call the doctor, he refuse to come and say, continue to monitor, but you know something bad will happen if they don’t come and do something.” These types of issues can lead to medical mistakes, which according to John Hopkins Health are the “Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.” Unwarranted variation in care and lack of accountability for poor outcomes should not happen, but it can be mitigated with knowledge and working together when speaking with a physician.

Being at the mercy of your health or the health of a loved one can be the source of determination you need to be a great patient advocate. I am reminded during difficult conversations with others, of the power that the Internet, local activist groups and our legislators can exercise to improve our healthcare system. Let facts be your friends. Learn as much as you can and don’t stop. Contact your Maryland legislators and let them know your story. Sharing your experiences and working to change the laws and societal norms that led to them can help other patients get the care they need.

Visit this link to find your representative and visit this link to stay on top of tips and resources available to you during COVID-19.

 

Montgomery County Young Democrats COVID-19 Resources

The coronavirus has affected tens of millions of Americans, and claimed over 80,000 lives. Below is a list of resources for residents of Montgomery County whose health, economic well-being, or lives have been impacted by the pandemic.

Please reach out to us at mocoyoungdems@gmail.com or michaeldelong94@gmail.com if you have any questions or resources to add to the list. For additional resources not listed here, call the 24/7 Maryland helpline by dialing 211, or visit governor.maryland.gov/marylandunites.

 

FOOD AND FINANCES: 

 

HEALTH AND HOUSING: 

    • CASA (Bilingual) Hotline: (301) 960-8698
    • Montgomery County Legal Aid: (240) 314-0373

 

SENIORS AND FAMILIES:

 

SMALL BUSINESSES:

 

OTHER RESOURCES:

  • CASA’s Solidarity Fund provides support to struggling immigrant families who will receive no assistance from unemployment, small business loans, or any federal help. More information at https://wearecasa.org/
  • Volunteers are needed in the afternoons on Sun/Mon/Wed/Thurs to drive donated meals to families in 20902, 20904 and 20906 zip codes. For more information, email:  food4highlandfamilies@gmail.com.
  • HarvestShare helps residents grow extra food in their gardens to donate to Manna Food Center. For more information email: https://www.harvestsharemd.org/about. Please grow “an extra row” in your garden for donation to Manna.

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Interested in delivering food boxes in a socially distant way? Email Martiza Solano at msolano@wearecasa.org. CASA is working with Capital Area Food Bank, and she is coordinating food deliveries.

Statement from the Montgomery County Young Democrats Regarding Rent Relief Initiatives

Rockville, MD – In Maryland, the beginning of April brings an onslaught of nerves and panic as, like clockwork, rent and bill payments add up even as paychecks come to a halt. It is unacceptable that during a national pandemic, when staying at home could save your life and the lives of millions, that there are not more statewide measures to ensure housing stability for renters. The Montgomery County Young Democrats urge Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to develop rent relief initiatives for those unemployed or affected by the Coronavirus.

In the past few weeks alone, over 84,000 Marylanders were forced to file for unemployment, and this number will continue to rise as businesses remain closed indefinitely. The most recent stimulus package approved by the federal government is a good start, but is not enough for struggling renters. The $1,200 check for each adult and $500 for each child does not cover even one month of expenses for most. Additionally, college-aged dependents are not eligible for this relief. Considering that Maryland has a cost of living well above the national average, the current federal measures are not enough.

Under the Governor’s recent executive order, landlords can seek mortgage relief as seventy of the largest banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, state agencies, and financial agencies, and institutions have agreed to provide flexibility to borrowers. Mortgage holders are eligible for a 90 day forbearance. Additionally, late fees for missed mortgage payments will not be charged and negative information will not be sent to credit bureaus. Mortgage relief options are essential but relief needs to be extended to renters as well.

The moratorium on evictions was a critical first step to protect at-risk renters from being displaced, but without additional guidance from the state, landlords can still choose to deny any relief to their tenants. As unemployment rises, unpaid rent accrues, and panic around the virus continues, it will be the most vulnerable and underserved communities that suffer the most without aid and protection from the government.

During this time of crisis we look to the Governor to protect Marylanders against amounting financial calamity. We respectfully ask Governor Hogan to take action and develop rent relief initiatives for those unemployed or affected by COVID-19, so that vulnerable residents will not be displaced due to insurmountable debt once the State of Emergency ends.

Living in the Shadows of Fear: Immigrants and the Coronavirus

Written by Margie Delao

As history has proven, natural disasters and health crises will disproportionately affect socially and economically underprivileged communities. During Hurricane Katrina, low income and African American communities IMG_0559were affected by the hurricane at astronomical rates. The HIV/AIDS epidemic swept through marginalized minority LGBTQ+ communities, further exacerbating rampant discrimination against those testing positive for the disease. In both cases, the government failed to act with urgent and sweeping policy to combat the Katrina fallout and the HIV/AIDS epidemics. As a result, minority communities paid the price. Just as much can be said regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic. As the days, hours, and minutes wear on, the U.S. government’s directives on social distancing and economic relief packages flurry onto media outlets, overtaking the country in a snowstorm of breaking news. The coronavirus will no doubt affect millions, but it is evident that the pandemic will be especially disastrous for immigrant communities. That said, what actions is the federal government taking to provide protection for immigrants, especially for those in ICE detention centers? With a proven track record of racist and discriminatory policies against immigrants, it is no surprise that President Trump is doing little to protect immigrant communities during the pandemic.

The fear mongering and racially charged narrative that Trump developed during his campaign is deeply embedded in the policies he enacted during his presidency. Trump has pushed for the building of a wall at the U.S. and Mexico border, enacted travel bans for primarily African and Muslim majority countries, and reinterpreted the Public Charge Rule by linking the naturalization approval process to an applicant’s income and reliance on certain public programs. All of Trump’s immigration policies are the result of his abhorrent xenophobic campaign promises to keep out immigrants fleeing war and conflict and obtaining citizenship. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Trump administration enacted the removal of English and Spanish CDC posters on the coronavirus from immigration courts in the midst of a pandemic. These policies only serve to leave immigrants vulnerable in their communities during the pandemic, wanting for vital, lifesaving information that their government is loath to provide them with.

The most vulnerable immigrants during this crisis are those who remain in the ICE detention centers. As the virus is known to spread quickly among large groups of individuals, those who are incarcerated are especially vulnerable, as they lack the option to socially distance themselves from others. The ACLU recently stated in their lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Agency that ICE detention centers are notorious for inhumane, unethical, and unsanitary living conditions. If the U.S. Government does not release vulnerable immigrants from these detention centers, it runs the risk of further spreading the disease among a much more defenseless swath of the population. With the pandemic worsening, the U.S. government has rushed to “flatten the curve” and slow the virus’ spread. In conjunction with pressure from lawmakers and advocates, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that the Public Charge Rule will not apply to any immigrants seeking testing and treatment for the coronavirus. What is especially critical to this change to the Public Charge Rule is that it will encourage immigrants to receive testing without fear of being denied a green card or citizenship.

Even with recent change in policy, how will immigrants trust the government to provide resources without future retribution amid anti-immigrant rhetoric Trump established during his campaign and through his policy initiatives? It is too early to predict whether the change in the Public Charge Rule will effectively encourage immigrants to seek out testing and treatment. Immigrants are especially vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic. Unless the government changes the narrative on immigration policy and enacts sweeping policy to support these vulnerable communities, such as releasing immigrants in detention centers or placing a moratorium on deportation, many will contract the disease, and even die due to fear of seeking out treatment.

Montgomery County Young Democrats Award $500 Grant to Springbrook High School Students for Hackathon

Rockville, February 25th Brook Codes Hackathon GrantThe Montgomery County Young Democrats are pleased to announce our awarding of a $500 dollar grant to Springbrook High School Students for a computer science hackathon.

Several students from Springbrook High School’s Academy of Information Technology are organizing a computer science hackathon (coding event for students to be enriched in the realm of computer science) named Brook Codes. They aim to bring together students who are interested in computer science regardless of their socioeconomic status, and to promote equity, access, and diversity. The event will also show that coding can be a fun activity for people of all skill levels and prove the computer science is not only for the wealthy and well-connected.

After hearing from the students, the Montgomery County Young Democrats Executive Board voted to award them a $500 grant toward their proposal. Technology is a growing career field, and it is important for youth to be involved in and learn about tech jobs.

The Brook Codes Hackathon will help provide students from all economic levels with a way to gain more exposure to the technology field and nurture their interest in STEM (science, technology, math, and engineering) careers. It will take place on April 18th, 2020 from 9 AM to 7 PM, at Springbrook High School. You can register online here.

The goal of the all day event will be to “design a game you can play with children around the world. It doesn’t matter how old they are, what language they speak, where they are, or how they access the Internet. They should be able to connect with you right away and understand the rules of the game immediately.”

The Montgomery County Young Democrats are pleased to encourage more young people to get involved in the technology sector, and to encourage more underrepresented people to get involved as well.

For more information, reach out to Michael DeLong at michaeldelong94@gmail.com or mocoyoungdems@gmail.com, or Communications Director Margie Delao at margie.c.delao@gmail.com.

Statement from the Montgomery County Young Democrats Regarding the Trump Administration’s Expansion of the Travel Ban

Rockville, MD- The Trump administration’s recent expansion of the list of countries under the travel ban reflects their continued politically motivated efforts to target African and Muslim countries under the guise of National Security.  Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Sudan, and Tanzania will as of February 22, 2020 be added to the list of countries on the ban.

President Trump is already on trial in the Senate for abusing his power and extorting other countries for the sake of advancing his personal political interests in the name of national security.  The misuse of power by President Trump is evident in his most recent efforts to withhold foreign aid to Ukraine in order to have the Ukrainian President publicly open inquiries on Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. In this case, it can be argued that the most recent expansion is yet another politically motivated move, but in this case, it is to reinforce the notably xenophobic edge of his campaign.

In a disappointing judgment, the Supreme Court upheld the initial ban stating that it is not prejudicial and that it is under the President’s authority to curtail immigration in the interest of national security.  That being said, it should not be under the President’s authority to influence foreign policy for the sole purpose of appealing to their voter base during their upcoming reelection year.

The Montgomery County Young Democrats condemn the expansion of the ban and urges the courts to impede these politically motivated efforts.  Unless something is done, President Trump will continue to manipulate foreign policy for his own personal benefit with a complete lack of regard for the country he governs.

 

 

 

Why Montgomery County Should Repeal Its Tax Breaks for Country Clubs

The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) are involved in politics for many different reasons. Here Michael DeLong, MCYD President, writes about country clubs in Montgomery County, how they receive large property tax breaks, and why these tax breaks are harmful and should be repealed. 

One of the issues that we Montgomery County Young Democrats care about is fairness and ensuring that our schools and services are well funded. Montgomery County is home to a great many people and businesses, from Bethesda to Silver Spring to Gaithersburg. What many people don’t know is that our county hosts fifteen golf courses and country clubs-and that these clubs get a massive property tax break.

Currently Maryland’s State Department of Assessments and Taxation assesses land owned by country clubs and gold courses at $1,000 per acre. They do this because of agreements signed with the country clubs, and this is under a fifty year old law intended to discourage development of open spaces. What this actually means that the country clubs pay property taxes on only a small amount of their land’s actual value. The actual market rate assessments for these country clubs range from $12,500 per acre to $1.1 million per acre!

Essentially, while homeowners, businesses, and other people are paying property taxes to fund schools, health care, parks, and other county priorities, wealthy country clubs have a huge tax break, and are not paying their fair share. And these clubs are very well off. For some of the clubs, member initiation fees can be over $75,000! To give just a few examples, Manor Country Club near Rockville has a property value of $5.1 million, Chevy Chase Country Club’s property value is $8.3 million, and Woodmont Country Club is valued at $15.5 million!

Getting rid of these unfair tax breaks for wealthy country clubs would yield an additional $10 million in annual property taxes for the county, which could be used to fund better county services and promote economic opportunity. For the past few years, Delegate David Moon has introduced bills to eliminate this giveaway. Last year he remarked that “this country club tax break deal is probably the most glaring and obvious example of unfair tax policy.”

Moon is right. And this year, Montgomery County faces a budget shortfall of $99.8 million, driven in part by stagnating property and income tax revenues! Repealing the property tax break for country clubs would help fill that gap and reduce budget cuts. Recently I was part of a protest in front of Columbia Country Club (valued at $7.1 million) to draw attention to this issue and urge that the tax break be revoked.

Budgets are moral documents. And at a time when budget cuts will hurt the county’s least fortunate, rich country clubs should pay their fair share to ensure that Montgomery County is a good place to live for all its residents.

Statement from the Montgomery County Young Democrats Regarding the Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump

Rockville, MD – In light of the November testimony on President Trump’s treatment of Ukraine as well the additional information that has surfaced, the Montgomery County Young Democrats support the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.

The impeachment hearings held by the House Intelligence Committee in November further solidified the accusations made against President Trump.  Multiple witnesses testified and shared their interactions with President Trump and his advisors.  From the infamous phone call with the President of Ukraine to the threats made against his own fellow government officials, President Trump’s recent actions are gravely concerning and a violation of his oath of office.

The witnesses’ testimony outlined the chain of events and revealed President Trump’s intent to withhold foreign aid and employ other abhorrent tactics for the sake of his personal political gain.  After a thorough investigation, the U.S. House of Representatives rightfully impeached President Trump on December 18th for abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

The Impeachment trial will be held in the U.S. Senate this month and the Montgomery County Young Democrats urge the Senate to conduct a fair trial.  It is important that the laws that govern this country also apply to the highest office in the United States, and that no one is above the law.

For more information or comments, contact Michael DeLong at 925-708-1135 or michaeldelong94@gmail.com.

 

 

 

MCYD Condemns Governor Hogan’s Statement Regarding Syrian Refugees, Call on Maryland Officials to Stand on Facts and Compassion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, November 19th

Contact: Communications Director Katie Mullen – katie.mullen@mcyd.org; President Nik Sushka – nik.sushka@mcyd.org

The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) condemn Governor Hogan’s recent decision to join a chorus of Republican leaders spreading fear and ignoring facts about Syrian victims of terror seeking refuge in our country.

At a time when the United States must be global leaders in aiding victims of terrorist acts, Governor Hogan has chosen to spread misinformation about the federal government’s refugee program. We find it unbelievable that our Governor is unaware of the stringent review process to which refugees are subjected before being resettled in our country or of the many refugees who have made new homes in Maryland and pose absolutely no threat to the safety or security of their neighbors.

Furthermore, his statement is downright shameful in its contradiction of Maryland’s values. Governor Hogan’s partisan decision to not accept Syrian refugees denies our shared American value of freedom, as well as our own state’s founding as a refuge for Catholics fleeing persecution in Europe.

We reject the notion that we are safer as Marylanders by demonizing people of specific nationalities, religions, or other backgrounds. We affirm that Maryland is stronger when we stand for compassion and defend our diversity. And we call on all Maryland leaders to voice their support of our existing, responsible approach to refugee resettlement, even as we work towards a meaningful and constructive response to the threat of ISIS here and abroad.

Ultimately, it will be the federal government’s legal call where refugees are resettled. Maryland should be a state enthusiastically offering our cooperation, not heartlessly ignoring those in great need.

MCYD is a 501(c)4 organization that seeks to attract and develop young people into caring agents of change who commit through political action to working for just and sustainable communities. For more information, visit www.mcyd.org.

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