By Richard Elliott
(BOWIE – January 31, 2024) – The January 26 Survivors of Gun Violence Summit brought together survivors, researchers, advocates, and community leaders to discuss solutions and serve as a call to action regarding gun violence in our community. The symposium sought to elevate survivor-centric advocacy, data-driven solutions, community empowerment and a collaborative approach between the different organizations and leaders present.
“It was important to bring together stakeholders to support survivors of gun violence in their advocacy to prevent tragedies of losing loved ones to senseless shootings,” said Congressman Glenn Ivey (D- District 4). “Having science-based research and federal grants resources as part of that solution will be a cornerstone of the emerging strategies we look to deploy to attack this problem on the local, state, and federal level.”
Some of the participating organizations included the White House Office on Gun Violence Prevention, Everytown for Gun Safety, MOMS Demand Action, the Community Justice Action Fund, and the University of Maryland Violence Reduction Center. County Council Chair Jolene Ivey (D- District 5) also participated in the summit.
“I think we all know that we have too many guns. We have too much access to guns”, she said during an interview on Jan. 28 when asked about what is harming public safety in Prince George’s and the DMV at large. “Without federal help, it’s hard to address this. Even where we have legal guns, they can be stolen or sold and become illegal.” She also noted that ghost guns, which are unregistered and don’t have serial numbers, are an issue to address.
Roundup of New Annapolis Legislations
Now that legislators have settled in for the 2024 session, more of their proposed bills are now available online for review by engaged citizens and lobbyists alike.
Governor Wes Moore (D) announced his sixteen-bill package on January 24, including legislation to create a center on data-driven gun violence prevention, incentivize new housing construction and improving transparency in Maryland’s permitting and licensing processes.
“This legislative agenda marks the next chapter in our work to leave no one behind. This year, we remain laser-focused on the issues that matter most to Marylanders — with sixteen bills centered on making Maryland safer, making Maryland more affordable, making Maryland more competitive, and continuing to make Maryland the state that serves,” said Moore in a statement.
State education officials went to the Ways and Means Committee to call for their full support for the Blueprint for Education’s proposals. Superintendent Carey Wright, who had success in raising Mississippi’s literacy rate, is planning to bring the science of reading method to all of Maryland’s counties.
One Fair Wage aims to raise Maryland’s tipped minimum wage from $3.63 plus tips, to a $15 hourly wage with tips as a bonus. This legislation is sponsored by Prince George’s County Delegates Adrian Boafo (D- District 23) and Veronica Turner (D- District 26) and 44 total Delegates are listed as sponsors.
“The One Fair Wage Act is long overdue; especially now that we accelerated the minimum wage in the state to $15 on Jan 1. but unfortunately tipped workers were left out. I have spoken directly to hundreds of food industry workers from Charles County to Baltimore County to Frederick County and pretty much all of them support raising their subminimum base hourly pay from $3.63/ hr to a full minimum wage with tips as a bonus. When you pay your workers a living wage you will have healthy workers, less employee turnover, and the working-class folks would have more disposable income to stimulate our economy with. Maryland’s food service industry has a majority women workforce and a lot of those women are women of color,” said Martin A. Mitchell, who is helping to organize One Fair Wage.
“This isn’t just an economic issue, but one of racial equity and women’s rights. It is incumbent on us to realize that the patrons should no longer subsidize the employee cost for businesses. Some in the industry do very well, some do ok, some don’t: but all deserve to make a minimum wage plus tips for their dedicated labor. Let’s lead Maryland.”
Maryland Meals for Achievement, which would provide free meals to students in Maryland public schools, is another bill that is coming back up this year. The bill is sponsored by Delegate Jessica Feldmark (D- District 12A) and Senator Shelly Hettleman (D- District 11) and has the first hearing on January 31.
“The grab-and-go option has shown success among our middle and high schools, and in elementary schools where it’s been tested we have seen a 30% increase in participation,” said No Kid Hungry Maryland Director Ayesha Holmes. “Grab-and-go options will also help reduce food waste, by allowing for children to take what they want, instead of serving a pre-made tray. This model requires fewer morning staff, and allows schools to run more efficiently.”
Senator Dawn Gile (D- District 33) is introducing a bill to limit the resale price of tickets. This would make ticketed music significantly more accessible at live venues such as FedEx Field and the Filmore.