On Wednesday, February 27, 35 WDC members traveled to Annapolis for WDC’s 2019 Advocacy Day. Each member received an information packet with summaries of WDC’s priority legislation, the legislative process, tips for meeting with legislators, and a schedule of legislator meetings. The day began with the morning session of the Women Legislators’ Caucus, where members heard presentations about child abuse and human trafficking in Maryland.
Montgomery County Senator Susan Lee (D16), Senate Majority Whip and Vice Chair of our Montgomery County Senate delegation, welcomed WDC to Annapolis and emphasized the value of our advocacy work. Members were seated by legislative district so they could get to know each other. Next, Advocacy Committee member Leslie Milano reviewed some helpful advocacy guidelines for meeting with legislators and each of WDC’s Priority Issues Captains reviewed the bills for which WDC had submitted written testimony. WDC advocates for priority legislation that significantly impacts women and their families in six Priority Issues Areas: Affordable Housing, Aging, Children and Youth, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Health, and Working Families.
Afterwards members made their way through the underground tunnels to the State House where space had been reserved in the observation galleries. It was a very busy legislative day in Annapolis, as both education bills and gun safety bills were scheduled for Committee hearings. The halls and galleries overflowed with advocates on all sides. Our members were eventually seated in the House Gallery and were able to observe some of the debate on the House floor about the $15 minimum wage bill (HB0166) that WDC supports.
Members left for scheduled meetings with their Senators and Delegates. Unfortunately, because the legislative session ran late, many legislators were unable to meet at their appointed times. However, our members were able to meet with aides and leave copies of WDC’s legislative priorities. Subsequently, a number of our legislators joined us for lunch. Each made a brief presentation about her/his legislative priorities and the bills she/he is sponsoring.
After lunch, our members had the option of attending a Committee hearing. Two Committees were of particular interest - the Senate Education and Economic Development Committee that was conducting a hearing on aid to education and the House Judicial Proceedings Committee that was hearing several gun safety bills, as well as a bill for which WDC had submitted testimony (SB0767-Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits).
Members reconvened at 3 p.m. for a round table discussion with Dr. David Hornbeck, founder of Strong Schools Maryland and former Maryland State Superintendent of Schools. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich also stopped by.