Maryland State

In addition to our four priority issues for the 2020 Maryland General Assembly, JUFJ is supporting additional issues that reflect our values and are important to our allies. Want to get involved in any of these campaigns? Contact a JUFJ organizer.

We expect an attack on the earned sick and safe leave bill that was passed and vetoed in 2017, which went into effect in February 2018 after the veto was overridden. 700,000 working people in Maryland are covered by the earned sick and safe leave law. Defense will focus on preventing the following weakening provisions:

  • An effort by Johns Hopkins University, LifeBridge Health, and Horseshoe Casinos to penalize use of sick leave.
  • An effort by local educational agencies to exempt substitutes from sick leave, likely led by Montgomery County.
  • An effort by the Chamber of Commerce/tourism lobby to exempt seasonal workers by extending eligibility to kick in after 120 days.

Key Partners: Working Matters Coalition, Job Opportunities Task Force, Public Justice Center

Maryland doesn’t have enough money to pay for vital services and programs. Many wealthy corporations and individuals pay little to no state income taxes, leaving low- and middle-income families to foot the bill. 

  • This session the legislature is likely to be laser-focused on finding new revenue to fund the Kirwan Commission recommendations to dramatically improve schools and reduce school inequity state-wide.
  • Our partners are working on proposals to close corporate tax loopholes and ensure that the richest Marylanders are paying their fair share.

Key Partners: Progressive Maryland, Maryland State Education Association, Communities United, SEIU Local 500, CASA, UNITE HERE Local 25 and Local 7

Governor Hogan wants to pass new mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for gun offenses. This would disproportionately target young people of color, trapping them in a criminal justice system that destroys lives and does not make our communities safer.  

  • Governor Hogan was successful in passing new mandatory minimums two sessions ago. 
  • JUFJ and other advocates were able to successfully block new mandatory minimums last year.

Key Partners: Job Opportunities Task Force, Out For Justice, ACLU, Maryland Office of the Public Defender, and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle

Solitary confinement (called “restrictive housing” in Maryland) is a form of physical and psychological torture that is used as a routine punishment for incarcerated people. This disproportionately affects poor people and people of color. Maryland uses restrictive housing more than any other state in the nation. New legislation would severely limit the use of solitary confinement in Maryland prisons.  

  • Last year we and our partners successfully passed new restrictions limiting solitary confinement for pregnant women and minors.
  • Additional new restrictions did not pass the legislature.

Key Partners: MD Prisoner’s Rights Coalition, Interfaith Action for Human Rights, and ACLU.

All people have a right to live in safe and stable housing. These bills will help give tenants a fair chance in the Rent Court system to resolve financial, maintenance, and safety issues. This will help to significantly reduce evictions. Reducing unjust evictions not only benefits renters, but the entire community by reducing homelessness and transience.

We will support the following legislation: 

  • Pass the HOME Act, which will prohibit landlords from turning away prospective tenants based on the source of income they are using to pay rent. 
  • Clearly define “rent” as only fixed costs. Currently, landlords who define “rent” to include variable costs (utility bills, fees, etc.) can quickly and unfairly evict renters because of unpredictability and lack of transparency.
  • Help renters report unsafe conditions, make landlords fix them, and expand access to escrow to limit rent that renters have to pay to their landlords until repairs are made.
  • Provide the right to legal counsel for renters in Rent Court, which significantly increases success rate of successful defenses.
  • Require landlords to provide tenants with a legal justification (a “just cause”) for eviction or refusal to renew a lease. This bill affects only Montgomery County.

Key Partners: Renters United Maryland Coalition, Communities United, Montgomery County Renters Alliance, Public Justice Center, Homeless Persons Representation Project

Skyrocketing prescription drug prices are making medicine inaccessible for everyone but very wealthy Marylanders. Last session, the Maryland legislature approved the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, to study and implement upper payment limits on what state, local, and county governments pay for drugs. This board requires funding, except Governor Hogan has yet to allocate money to ensure the work of making prescription drugs affordable is possible. This session’s advocacy will focus on: 

  • Ensuring adequate funding and resources for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board
  • Opposing efforts by Big Pharma and others to weaken the Board
  • Supporting other measures to lower drug prices that will be introduced

Key Partners: Maryland Health Care for All

Maryland Organizers