Dear 43rd District,
As we awake to a New Year morning, and we think back on 2017, I share with you some mixed emotions. While at times 2017 has felt like an unwavering assault on all we hold dear, on this first day of a new year, let us also remember the multiple calls to resist, to persist and to build our resolve that we answered together. Across the State of Maryland and here in Baltimore, many of us have come together to fight for what’s right. Top on my list of New Year’s resolutions, as I prepare to go into Session, is to continue to stand up for the people and values I represent, both during the 90 days of Session in Annapolis, and the other 275 days of the year.
One of those fights is the one I began last year to end water lien foreclosures.
While it is important to make long-overdue investments in updating Baltimore City’s water and sewer systems, that doesn’t mean families should be losing their homes or be forced to choose between buying food for their kids and paying their water bills. As you know, I began calling for an end to water shut offs and tax sales for overdue water bills last year. While my bill passed out of the House, it did not make it out of the Senate. Despite this disappointing result, I continued the fight.
Over the year, momentum continued to build and public support for the end of this practice grew, thanks to grassroots organizing and the advocacy work of organizations like the Inter-Ministerial Alliance, Food and Water Watch, Out for Justice and Baltimore Right To Water Coalition. These efforts were bolstered by the deliberations of the General Assembly’s Task Force to Study Tax Sales In Maryland and investigative reporting by the Baltimore Sun and The Real News Network and other outlets.
In fact, on December 18th the Baltimore Sun editorial board in their support for water affordability reforms, called for the General Assembly to support my efforts to end this tax sale practice in the upcoming session. Then two days later, Baltimore’s Mayor Pugh said that the City will no longer sell the right to foreclose on people’s homes based on unpaid water bills. It’s a good first step. We need to do much more to address challenges in the billing and appeal process but our efforts and hard work on the issue will result in a happier year for many of our hard-working families who now won’t fear of losing their homes due to water lien foreclosures.
In this new year, I will remain committed to keeping Maryland families in their homes with running water.
We have much work to do in 2018 and beyond. Among them are:
Ensuring fair and equitable funding of public education systems by fully supporting the existing Thornton Formula and GCEI; moving for rapid implementation of the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission that will make sure every school has what they need to bridge the racial and economic disparities in achievement; restoring the trust in Maryland Educational Trust Fund; extending access to pre-K programs; ending homelessness for our most vulnerable youth; supporting anti-violence efforts like Baltimore Ceasefire; reducing violent crime by going after illegal gun dealers; protecting Marylanders against the negative impacts of federal tax bill and budget cuts that will cut public services, access to affordable healthcare, food assistance and transportation infrastructure; and making earned safe and sick leave the law of the land in Maryland.
As you know, there are many more battles to fight, and I will show the same dedication to being a progressive, effective and independent leader that I have been over the last seven years as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. And it’s precisely that kind of leadership I want to bring to the State Senate.
My resolution is to not just fight these battles for the next 90 days, but every day… until victory is won for all.
Our victories happen because we stand together, and for each other. Let us ring in a more just, equitable, and safe New Year together.