The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LBCM) has been working to improve the quality of life for millions by meeting with community leaders and proactively engaging the citizens. The first day of session, Jan. 11, the LBCM presented a well thought out agenda.

Andy Pierre, Executive Director of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LinkedIn Photo)

Andy Pierre, Executive Director of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LinkedIn Photo)

Then on January 16th, the LBCM honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the “Beyond the Dream Unity Rally” and annual Wreath Laying Ceremony at Dr. Kings memorial tree. Addressing the hundreds in attendance were Governor Hogan, Lt. Governor Rutherford, Senate President Miller, Speaker Busch, and WOLB talk show host Former Senator Larry Young, who was Chair of the Caucus when Dr. King’s Memorial Tree was planted – making Maryland the only state to honor Dr. King with a tree on the grounds of the State Capital.

The HBCUs Lawsuit

In 2013, Judge Catherine Blake cited the wrongdoing of “unreasonable duplication” of unique programs offered at Traditionally Black Institutions (TBI) by Traditionally White Institutions (TWI). Whether a matter of malice or aloofness, the copycatting and the unequal distribution of resources prevented the TBI’s from desegregating as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The State and the HBCUs are supposed to negotiate a settlement in good faith but the State has refused to do so, forcing this ongoing mediation on a fair and equitable settlement presided by Judge Blake.  The LBCM will support the recommendations of the Federal Court.

The Medical Cannabis Industry

Less 1% of the sixty cannabis grower licenses issued nationwide are to qualified Black-owned companies. In Maryland the Cannabis Commission, composed of 14 White members and 1 Black member, intend to obstruct qualified Black companies from being licensed as growers and processors. It’s like they expect minorities to be happy with the scraps they toss out the back door. This Commission, appointed by former Governor O’Malley, does not reflect the state, has no oversight, and was never established to be a regulatory commission. Simply put, they have gone rogue. Senator Joan Carter Conway and Delegate Cheryl Glenn are filling emergency legislation to disband the current Commission and reorganize it with members who reflect the diversity of the state.

Prescription Drug Prices

The skyrocketing cost of life-saving prescription medication is inexcusable and must be reined in. The LBCM will be fighting for common sense legislation to require major drug companies to be transparent by requiring them them to disclose the basis of price increase and to give prior notice to consumers. Additionally, we want to empower the Attorney General to take legal actions against drug companies to prevent price gouging.

Bail Reform

The cash bail system doesn’t make the streets safer, since dangerous offenders can buy their freedom and proceed to terrorize the community.  Meanwhile, a non-violent offender without means is incarcerated until his/her court date which may lead to job loss. This system doesn’t work, has never worked, and will never work. The LCBM is working to end to the pay-or-stay practice of the correctional system.

Baltimore City Public Schools

The LBCM is supporting the priority of Mayor Catherine Pugh in her aim to have the sole authority to appoint all members of the School Board.

Ban Pre-K Suspensions

Suspending a four-year-old adversely affects their intellectual, emotional, and social development. Additionally, it causes an undue financial strain on working parents by forcing them to either take a day off or pay for childcare. The LBCM is seeking to ban Pre-K suspensions. It is counter to the mission of the Department of Education and delays intellectual development at a critical age. 

“This united Black Caucus is more than just a show of force,” said Black Caucus Chair Delegate Glenn. “It is a promise to those who voted for us – a promise that we will fight harder than ever to protect equal access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for African Americans in the State of Maryland.”

The LBCM meets every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. at the House Office Building, Room 300

6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401. All meetings are open to the public.

Andy Pierre is the Executive Director of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.