Virtual Community Meeting, June Minutes
Thank you to all who were able to tune in for the June 8 Community Meeting. We heard from:
Michelle Lee, SE Community Liaison for the Maryland State Attorney’s office, on the status of court cases during COVID
Bill Ferguson, President of the Maryland State Senate, on the status of the Maryland state legislature
Robbie Leonard, Secretary for the Maryland State Democratic Party, on the status of counting absentee ballots from District 1 that had a printing/scanning error
Community members, who gave their feedback about the PPNA Anti-Racism Statement, available here.
PPNA Anti-Racism Statement
PPNA Leadership shared the PPNA Anti-Racism Statement. We asked for dialogue from community members about their thoughts/reactions to the statement and the commitments therein.
We are calling on our neighbors and community members to hold PPNA accountable to these commitments. It is essential that we continue to hear from PPNA members and our neighbors about your suggestions, needs, and wants.
We received a lot of feedback about wording, positioning, action steps, attitude shifts, and approaches to anti-racism that PPNA can implement going forward.
To those who contributed during the virtual discussion, THANK YOU for sharing your honesty, authenticity, and commitment to anti-racist action with PPNA and our community.
For those who were not able to tune in, we would like to hear from you. We encourage all of our neighbors to get in touch about anything that you weren’t able to say during the virtual discussion: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PPNA Anti-Racism Statement posted here is just the first step in our commitment to anti-racism. This is the same text that was shared during the June 8 virtual meeting, but it is subject to change based on your feedback and involvement.
In addition, we look forward to working alongside you as we revise this statement and our future actions as an organization and as neighbors. Our commitment to anti-racism is an iterative and ongoing process.
Michelle Lee, SE Community Liaison for the Maryland State Attorney’s office
The courts opened up officially on June 8, but employees are still working from home.
Most of the cases that were scheduled between March 13-June 8 have been pushed to late-summer or fall. Exact dates are still TBD, and everything is subject to change based on the status of the COVID pandemic.
District trials expected to resume in late summer. Jury trials expected to resume in the fall. Everything is subject to change based on the status of the COVID pandemic.
Defendants have a right to face their accusers. Victims have a right to appear in court. Courts are working through how to keep everyone safe from health concerns during trials, since we will not be able to wear masks or face coverings during court.
Michelle can be reached if you have any questions/concerns, or if you would like to know the status of a specific case. Contact Michelle: MLee@stattorney.org. Office: 443-984-6241. Cell: 443-602-6566.
Bill Ferguson, President of the Maryland State Senate
Bill was elected as President of the Maryland State Senate in January, following the longest serving senate president of the United States. Mike Miller had previously been in this role for 33 years. Bill’s role is to provide oversight and build coalitions to support proposed legislation.
The Maryland State Senate was in session from January through March 18. This was the first time since the Civil War that session had to be shut down before 90 days. The Senate was in session for 71 days. Now, it’s becoming more and more clear that we are on the precipice of a momentous societal shift.
The Preakness Bill was passed.
A settlement for the outstanding lawsuit against the state for historically black colleges and universities was passed to provide funding for innovative programming and expanded enrollment to Maryland’s four HBCUs. Governor Hogan vetoed the bill.
Legislation was passed to use casino funds for new school construction across the state. This was a bill that was connected to the Kirwin Commission. The Kirwin recommendations on a blueprint for the future of Maryland schools required a substantial investment by the state. Governor Hogan vetoed this legislation.
The Senate was prepared to come back in session at the end of May, but the COVID pandemic thwarted this date. At this time, there are no plans to come back for a special session. Regardless, if the legislature is not able to override any of the Governor’s vetoes by July 1, 2020, then the expenditures of dollars would not be able to go into place until the following fiscal year, taking effect on July 1, 2021.
The state is experiencing severe economic consequences as a result of the COVID pandemic. The state received federal funding for coronavirus relief, but these funds cannot be used to make up for lost revenues from sales taxes and withholdings. This will impact budgeting decisions for years to come.
The state is waiting to learn whether there will be another round of stimulus money from the federal government. Also, the presidential election in November will impact whether states receive federal dollars, going into the next fiscal year.
The legislature is considering ways to address evictions/rent relief, health disparities, and unemployment insurance reform issues that are disproportionately affecting communities of color during the COVID pandemic.
Regarding the primary elections from June 2, there were a number of problems, but an entirely new system of voting was created in five weeks. It was not a perfect system, but there is a joint House and Senate hearing coming up on June 16.
Regarding education, the state Department of Education has not provided clear guidelines about how to move forward throughout the COVID pandemic. Without guidance at the state level, schools have been unable to move forward with decision-making. Schools will likely continue with district learning into the fall.
Contact Senator Bill Ferguson: email@example.com
Robbie Leonard, Secretary for the Maryland Democratic Party
Going into the primary elections on June 2, voters in District 1 had Ballot Style 1 or Ballot Style 19. This ‘ballot style’ is in reference to a scantron-like printed ballot. There was an error on the printing of these ballot styles, which affected absentee ballots and mail-in ballots. For those who went to vote in-person on June 2, the ballots were correct.
The printing/scanning error only affected the Councilperson race for District 1 and the Judges of the Circuit Court. All other races (presidential primary, mayoral race, etc.) were counted correctly.
Election teams manually counted the Councilperson race for District 1 and the Judges of the Circuit Court for voters in District 1. This process involves manually recreating the ballots of voters from District 1. An Election Observer was present to help provide accountability for guaranteeing the intent of the voter.
You can go to voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch to check on the status of your ballot.
There were roughly 12,000 remaining ballots that still needed to be counted as of June 8. Of those, roughly 2,400 were from voters in District 1. 12,000 ballots outstanding are both Republican and Democratic ballots. There are ~5,000 ballots to be counted that are electronic absentee ballots. Finally, there are ~1,800-2,400 provisional ballots that will get counted after all mail-in ballots and in-person ballots are finished.
Contact Robbie Leonard: firstname.lastname@example.org
View the full recording of the PPNA Virtual Meeting: