Equity in Education
Keeping college affordable
I have fought alongside my Democratic colleagues to make college more affordable by freezing tuition and limiting tuition increases at Maryland’s public universities. As a result, tuition at Maryland’s public colleges went from being 7th most expensive in the nation to 26th least expensive. I have also been working with my colleagues to develop a plan to make community college more affordable and, in some cases, free.
Ending discriminatory disciplinary practices
During the 2015-2016 school year 2,363 of our students in Maryland between prekindergarten and second grade were suspended or expelled. When our youngest learners get suspended or expelled they are ten times more likely to drop out of school and are far more likely to become entangled in the criminal justice system. This practice disproportionately affects African-Americans and children with developmental differences. This past session I proposed legislation, which became law, that will end that practice and ensure we have equity in education.
Investing in our public schools
If we hope to provide the next generation with the skills they need to succeed in our economy we must boldly invest in our public schools. While in Annapolis I fought alongside my Democratic colleagues to restore $68 in public school funding initially cut by the Governor. These cuts would have resulted in teacher layoffs, a decrease in programming options for our students, and larger class sizes.
Equal Justice for All
Focusing on rehabilitation and deterrence
I worked tirelessly to pass the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2016, which changed the criminal justice system in Maryland by repealing minimum mandatory sentences for certain nonviolent drug crimes and focusing on treatment rather than incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
Equal justice under the law
During the 2016 legislative session, I worked with our Attorney General, Brian Frosh, to ensure we implemented real bail reform premised on the notion we should have one justice system in our state – not one for the rich and one for the economically disadvantaged.
Expanding Economic Opportunities
Today thousands of Marylanders are denied housing because they have a housing voucher. 79% of voucher holders in Maryland are people of color and 43% are single mothers. I’ve been working on legislation to prohibit this practice and to give every Marylander an opportunity to live in safe, clean housing.
Investing in our local economies
Despite the Governor’s proclamation that “Maryland is open for business” several recent studies have deemed Maryland the third worst state to start a small business — ranking ahead only of New Jersey and New Hampshire. Small and community businesses are the backbone of our economy and produce the majority of new jobs in Maryland. As your State Senator, I have been dedicated to developing policies that incentivize small business growth over corporate welfare for multinational organizations.
Raising the minimum wage
In today’s reality, minimum wage jobs are no longer temporary jobs or jobs for people outside of the “skilled economy.” Today people work two and sometimes three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. A major component of growing the middle class is to increase the minimum wage – improved earning power will make it easier for struggling Marylanders to keep their families out of poverty and will provide them with a modicum of economic stability.
Among women who hold full-time, year-round jobs in the United States, African-American women are paid, on average, 60 cents while Latinas are paid just 55 cents for every dollar paid to a man. While in the legislature I have worked to strengthen Maryland’s equal pay laws by expanding them to all employers, ensuring businesses cannot penalize employees for discussing salaries, and by broadening standards to determine whether unlawful compensation discrimination exists.
Baltimore has the highest emissions-related mortality rate in the nation with 130 out of every 100,000 residents likely to die prematurely in a given year due to long-term exposure to air pollution, which disproportionately affects communities of color. Clean renewable energy, such as wind and solar, does not have these harmful emissions.
I have been a strong supporter of efforts to increase the amount of clean renewable energy used in Maryland and I was proud to cast my vote to override the Governor’s veto of the 2016 Clean Energy Jobs Act. We are now on track to achieve 25% renewable energy by 2020.
Defending the Right to Vote
Access to the ballot box
Every voice in our society should be heard, and expanding access to the franchise should a priority for any thriving democracy. While in the legislature I helped lead the fight to re-enfranchise the more than 40,000 Marylanders with felony records on parole and probation regain their voting rights.
Automatic voter registration
As your State Senator, I have also put forth automatic voter registration legislation making it easier for Marylanders to vote when they access government services.
Common Sense Gun Legislation
I have always supported the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Marylanders to keep and bear arms. However, we still have much to do to ensure we have sensible gun laws that protect us from those who mean to do us harm.
No guns on college campuses
College campuses should be places in which the open and free exchange of ideas is encouraged. Our students deserve a learning environment free from the fear that a firearm may be present in a classroom, the campus quad, or the dorm room. As your state senator, I have led the fight to keep guns off of our college campuses.
Guns and domestic abusers are a deadly combination
Of women killed by men, more than 90 percent are killed by a man they knew personally. At least 62 percent are killed by an intimate partner. Over the past 25 years, more intimate partner homicides have been carried out with guns than with all other weapons combined. Currently, the law prohibits a convicted domestic abuser from purchasing or possessing a gun, but the law does not provide a timeline for forfeiture or a requirement of proof of forfeiture. Over the past three years, I have been the lead sponsor of legislation that requires abusers to forfeit guns within 48 hours and to give notice of forfeiture within 5 days.
Protecting our Immigrant Communities
I’m working hard in Annapolis to ensure our immigrant communities are protected from invasive policing practices and are afforded equal access to educational, social, and economic opportunity.