What gives me hope? Especially when things feel so grim–looming climate disasters, lingering health scares, a still staggering economy, and continuing supply chain disruptions–I remain hopeful in the belief that together we can meet these challenges and successfully overcome them.
Summarized below are some of the ways I will be addressing these challenges in the next session of the Maryland General Assembly, which begins on January 11th.
Climate Justice: "We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” Those words from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the recent climate change summit in Egypt echo in my ear and motivate me every day. This session I have three bills aimed at starting to put our foot on the climate brake by:
1. significantly increasing the development of OffShore Wind off our coast, which will be critical to meet our emission reduction targets–all while creating good union jobs, 2. fully investing in energy efficiency for low and moderate income housing (this bill passed in both chambers last year, but was vetoed by Governor Hogan), and 3. making state roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to build more inclusive and climate-friendly communities.
Economic Justice: Closely related to the climate crisis is the crisis of inequality. The income and wealth gap in this country and the world have reached unconscionable and immoral levels. To help achieve greater economic justice, I am bringing bills:
4. modernizing our Unemployment Insurance system, with livable benefit levels and greater equity in the funding model, 5. requiring corporations to report their effective tax rate to increase transparency and public accountability, 6. ensuring prevailing wages and benefits are paid for work done on our electric grid, 7. making our Safety Net services—SNAP, energy assistance, and Medicaid—easier to access with one streamlined application process for all benefits, and 8. continuing to address medical debt so people don’t become destitute because they get sick.
Food Justice: I have long believed our current food system is both harmful to our health and destructive to the planet. COVID-19 further revealed the weaknesses of our supply chain and showed just how vulnerable our food system really is. To build a healthier, more sustainable and just food system, I will be working toward:
9. incentivizing removal of invasive species from the Chesapeake Bay–and serving them as a protein in our state-run institutions(!), 10. protecting pollinator corridors, and 11. making the Food System Resiliency Council a permanent state organization.
Compassionate Care for Kids in Our Community: Finally, so many of us continue to struggle with the horror and heartbreak caused by the pandemic. This is especially true for our young people. Research studies and many stories I have heard while traveling around the district show the serious and unprecedented mental health challenges our children are facing. I will therefore be offering a bill:
12. increasing funding for school-based mental health services to meet children where they are and nurture and support them.
I honestly believe a better and brighter future is possible. To make it a reality will require all of us collectively to take actions–both big and small–to make it happen. Everywhere I go in our community I see signs of hope. Please join me and so many others in these efforts.
*Special Outreach Effort: Next Wednesday, December 28th, we will be canvassing residents in the Enclave community to share information about community events, hear about their priorities and concerns, and share resource information. If you would like to join us, please email email@example.com.
Finally, thanks to everyone who supported my winter fundraiser, “Chocolate and Chat with Charkoudian.” Your donations and continuing support (and chocolate!) make my work possible.
Stay in Touch If you or anyone you know needs assistance, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message at (410)-841-3423.