Friday, October 4, 2013

JUICE: SEIU Endorses Saqib Ali, Craig Rice Non-Endorsement, Mizeur's Pitch, Fracking #'s, Consumer Heroes & Family Farms

Below Maryland Juice provides a quick round-up of news tidbits of interest to politicos:

JUICE #1: SEIU LOCAL 500 ENDORSES SAQIB ALI FOR BRIAN FELDMAN'S DELEGATE SEAT - Maryland Juice received a copy of the following letter from SEIU Local 500 endorsing former Delegate Saqib Ali for Brian Feldman's vacant D15 seat:
October 3, 2013
Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee
3720 Farragut Avenue, Suite 303
Kensington, MD 20895

Dear Committee Member:

On behalf of the 15,000 SEIU Local 500 members, I am writing to you to strongly encourage you to appoint former Delegate Saqib Ali to the District 15 House of Delegates vacancy created by the appointment of Delegate Brian Feldman to the Maryland Senate.

Our decision was not an easy one, there were many candidates who were kind enough to meet with our COPE Committee and share their views on issues of importance to working families across Montgomery County.  We were, in particular, impressed with the earnest commitment to our issues put forth by your Vice Chair Ms. Venatta Vann.  In the end, however, we were swayed by Delegate Ali’s long track record of fighting for the progressive values of the Democratic Party.  From his insistence on ensuring increased transparency in Annapolis to his full-throated endorsement of collective bargaining rights for adjunct faculty and an increase in the minimum wage, there was no candidate we found that could match his record of experience.  We are confident that he will be a great delegate who will do the citizens of District 15 proud.

We look forward to your appointment of Delegate Ali to the Maryland House of Delegates in the very near future, and we thank you for taking the time to consider the views of our members in this regard.


Merle A. Cuttitta
cc:           Brian Feldman
               Aruna Miller
               Kathleen Dumas
               David Rodich
               Mark McLaurin

JUICE #2: MOCO COUNCILMEMBER CRAIG RICE SENDS MCDCC LETTER DENYING ENDORSEMENT OF CANDIDATE IN D15 RACE - This week, the District 15 Democratic Caucus hosted a well-attended candidates forum for contenders in the race to replace Delegate Brian Feldman. A few sources noted that one candidate, David Frasier-Hidalgo, claimed the endorsement of Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice. But a Maryland Juice source forwarded us a copy of an email sent by Craig Rice to the Montgomery Democratic Central Committee denying he made any endorsement in the D15 contest:
Dear Gabe,

It is my understanding that David Fraser Hidalgo, indicated during the candidates' forum last night, October 2, 2013, I have endorsed him for the vacant D15 delegate seat. This is not true.

I have elected not to endorse any candidate in this race. As you know, I have been committed to increasing diversity in our elected representation for a long time. We have an opportunity with this seat to expand diversity and have excellent representation for the district, which is precisely what I want. With a number of candidates that I feel would do just that, I remain neutral.

If you have any questions please give me a call.


Craig Rice, Vice-President
Montgomery County Council

c: Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee

JUICE #3: HEATHER MIZEUR FUNDRAISING TO MAKE HISTORY AS WOMAN & LGBT GOVERNOR - Maryland Juice received a copy of the following fundraising solicitation being sent by Heather Mizeur's gubernatorial campaign. Her pitch leads with a bid to help her make history as a woman and LGBT Governor:

JUICE #4: ENVIRONMENT MARYLAND RELEASES REPORT HIGHLIGHTING NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF FRACKING - The advocacy group Environment Maryland yesterday distributed a press release and new report detailing the negative impacts of fracking (see both items below):


Fracking by the Numbers: New Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center 
Report First to Quantify Threat of Gas Drilling

Annapolis, MD — Today, a new Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center report called “Fracking by the Numbers” measures the damage being done by dirty drilling across the country. Even as a Maryland state commission is working on guidelines for fracking in the state, the report is the first study of its kind to measure the footprint of fracking damage to date— including toxic wastewater, water use, chemical use, air pollution, land damage and global warming emissions.

“The numbers don't lie— fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If fracking is allowed here, this is the kind of damage we will see in Maryland,” said Talya Tavor, Field Associate from Environment Maryland. “In suggesting that some regulatory scheme could make fracking safe, the Commission has vastly underestimated the scale and scope of pollution that comes with this dirty drilling.”

Of particular concern, the report shows that in Pennsylvania 1.2 billion gallons in 2012 and more than 2.5 billion gallons have been produced since the fracking boom began. Often laced with cancer-causing and even radioactive material, toxic fracking waste has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico.

“We need to protect the people and future generations of Maryland from the threats of Fracking,” said 16th District Delegate, Ariana Kelly.

“The bottom line is this: the numbers on fracking add up to an environmental nightmare,” said Tavor, “For public health and our environment, we need to put a stop to fracking.”

Shane Robinson, Delegate of Maryland’s 39th District, also spoke out against fracking. “I am worried about what this could mean for my family’s health an safety, should we start fracking in Maryland. The most responsible thing we can do to protect the ones we love is to not frack at all.”

On the federal level, Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania (D-Scranton) introduced the CLEANER Act (H.R. 2825)— a bill to close the loophole exempting oil and gas waste from the nation’s hazardous waste law.

“Here in Maryland, we can stop the fracking frenzy before it ever starts,” concluded Tavor. “But for places where fracking is already generating billions of gallons of toxic fracking waste and making people sick, it’s time for Washington to step in; officials can start by closing the loophole exempting toxic fracking waste from our nation’s hazardous waste law.”


Environment Maryland is a state-based, citizen-supported, environmental advocacy organization, working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.

JUICE #5: MARYLAND CONSUMER RIGHTS COALITION SCORES LAWMAKERS - Last month, the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition released a scorecard for Annapolis lawmakers, factoring in their positions on consumer issues like debt prisons and homeowners protections. See their press release and scorecard below:

Consumer Champions, Heroes Highlight MCRC’s 2013 Legislative Scorecard
  • Consumer Champions, Consumer Heroes: Eleven legislators named MCRC “2013 Consumer Champions” for perfect scores on consumer rights bills this year as eight “Consumer Heroes” earn perfect scores for the 2011, 2012, and 2013 sessions.
  • Key victories create high scores:  Near-unanimous votes passing new laws to limit debt prisons, give homeowners new protections, prevent identity theft, and stop mandatory insurance bundling lead to high scores for many legislators.
  • Unfinished Business: Failure to pass bills to prevent price-gouging, give consumers better information about debts under collection, and stop unfair retaliation against auto dealers leaves legislature’s work incomplete on key consumer issues.
Baltimore, MD:  Eleven lawmakers earned perfect scores for their consumer rights votes during the 2013 legislative session and eight were named “MCRC Consumer Heroes” for their 100% pro-consumer records in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 sessions on the 2013 Legislative Scorecard the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC) released this morning.  Nine Senators and 51 members of the House of Delegates earned scores of 90% or better for the 2013 session while eight Senators and 16 House members got failing grades (under 65%).

“Those strong scores reflect the good work the legislature did to curtail debt arrests, identity theft, unfair insurance practices and to protect homeowners and renters this year,” MCRC Executive Director Marceline White argues. “We salute our Consumer Champions and Consumer Heroes for standing up time and time again to protect Maryland consumers against financial predators.”

Senators Richard Madaleno, Paul Pinsky, and Jim Rosapepe earned perfect consumer rights scores for all three sessions (2011 to 2013) while Delegates Al Carr, Bill Frick, Barbara Frush, Carolyn Howard, and James Hubbard compiled perfect records on the House side. Sen. Roy Dyson and Delegates Liz Bobo and Nina Harper joined those other eight legislators on the list of 2013 Consumer Champions.

MCRC also named 12 members of the four committees that mark-up most of the controversial consumer bills (the Senate Finance and Judicial Proceedings Committees and the House Economic Matters and Judiciary Committees) who earned 80% or better overall scores our “2013 Consumer Committee Champions.” “Members of these committees cast many more tough committee votes on consumer issues than other legislators do,” Marceline White notes. “The leadership of these committee champions makes a real difference on the panels where Maryland consumers need it most.”

Sen. Brian Frosh, Sen. Lisa Gladden, Sen. Delores Kelley, and Del. Tom Hucker are among long-time allies of Maryland consumers who made the list of MCRC’s 2013 Consumer Committee Champions.

MCRC’s fourth annual consumer scorecard grades legislators on their floor votes on seven key consumer rights bills and on their committee votes on a larger set of consumer issues. Their floor scores and committee scores are averaged to arrive at a legislator’s overall score. Legislators who serve on committees that do not handle consumer rights bills are graded solely on their floor scores.

For the first time, this year’s MCRC scorecard also included a three-year average for legislators’ scores for the 2011 to 2013 sessions. “The three-year average score gives consumers better information about which legislators really stand up for consumer rights, year in and year out,” Marceline White notes.

Nearly unanimous floor votes backing important bills that protect consumers arrested in debt cases (HB 597/SB 419), allow state officials to put a security freeze on the credits records of foster children (HB 1297/SB 897), prohibit mandatory bundling of home and auto insurance (HB 342/SB 446), and limit foreclosures based on liens in common-ownership communities (HB 286/SB 161) helped give many legislators high scores for 2013.

Most legislators lost points, however, for voting for a bill that will hurt residential gas consumers by letting gas companies add a surcharge of up to $2/month to residential energy bills (HB 89/SB 8). Most Senators also cast anti-consumer votes to help defeat a bill that would have prohibited unfair retaliation by auto manufacturers against Maryland auto dealers (SB 249).

Important bills that would have given consumers better information about the debts that collectors say they owe (HB 1157/SB 432), licensed property managers for common-ownership communities (HB 576/SB 794), and increased the compensation homeowners can get for home improvement jobs gone bad without  a formal hearing (SB 78) also died in key committees last Spring.

The legislature’s mixed record leaves MCRC and other consumer advocates with plenty of challenges to confront in 2014. “Consumers won some victories this year,” Marceline White argues. “But we’re eager to come back next year to do more to make insurance fairer and more affordable, protect families against foreclosures, and make sure consumers understand the debts they’re told they owe.”

To see all the scores and legislators MCRC recognizes this year, please download:
The full scorecard here:
MCRC’s list of 2013 Consumer Champions here:
MCRC’s list of Consumer Heroes, 2011 to 2013 here:
MCRC’s list of 2013 Committee Champions here:

You can see the full list of floor and committee votes we used to grade each legislator on the MCRC’s Legislative Scorecard homepage here:

Please Note: You will find copies of the scorecard, this statement, and MCRC’s lists of Consumer Champions, Consumer Heroes and Consumer Committee Champions attached to this note.

JUICE #6: FAMILY FARMS & FARMERS MARKETS SEEK HELP FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL - Local progressive advocate and farmer Mike Tabor provided Maryland Juice with the following alert regarding potential threats to the ability of family farms and farmers' markets to survive in the world of the agro-industrial complex:
MIKE TABOR: Most consumers and many farmers don't know or understand the sweeping new FDA regulations that are about to inpact farmers markets and a new industrial-style approach to the food we're allowed to consume.  Attached is what the family farm organizations are trying to put together for the consumer, to help them understand what is going on and suggested language for comments to FDA.  It is critical that the FDA get inundated with comments from concerned farmers and consumers at Farmers markets and CSA's.  Additionally, the funding for the 3,000 federal inspectors must not be funded.  The talk is that the inspectors will be contracted out, will not be well-informed and will have a financial incentive to cite as many farms as they can.  
So in addition to contacting the FDA, our elected reps need to be asked to oppose the funding of the inspectors. The regs have gotten so out of hand, the bottom line is that most family farms will not be able to comply both financially and the compliance will be extraordinarily cumbersome and prohibitive, the end result is that most family farms will go out of business, there won't be any farmers markets that will have fresh produce, or CSAs.
Below you can read a fact sheet and call for comments from the National Sustainable Agriculture Commission:

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