LOCAL Maryland Statement on Gov. Hogan’s Decision to Ban Localities from Closing Schools

On Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan stripped local governments’ authority to issue blanket closures of schools, following his disagreement with a Montgomery County decision to close private and parochial schools. His revised emergency order continues to allow localities to order closures or modifications at businesses and organizations, but it now excludes schools from that authority.

The following is a statement from Shawn McIntosh, who leads the efforts of LOCAL (Let Our Communities Act Locally) Maryland:

“Our coalition is disappointed with Gov. Hogan’s decision to revoke the authority of local governments to issue blanket closures of schools within the state. We feel that excluding schools from his emergency order is inconsistent with his other directives during this COVID-19 pandemic and does not protect the ability of Maryland’s localities to govern their citizens in a manner that suits them best.

Montgomery County has made the decision to mandate the closure of private and parochial schools. That is a decision that is optimal for the county and how they believe they can best protect the health and safety of their students, which should always be the paramount concern, but specifically during this COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone in our state is entitled to that right.”

LOCAL Maryland is a coalition of advocacy organizations committed to protecting the health, the environment and economic wellbeing of Maryland citizens. It works to ensure that local governments have the ability to pass laws that meet the needs of their residents.

LOCAL Maryland Introduces 2020 Legislative Agenda Aimed at Protecting Quality of Life for State Residents

On Jan. 17, LOCAL (Let Our Communities Act Locally) Maryland, a coalition consisting of advocacy organizations from across the state, committed to protecting the health, the environment and economic wellbeing of Maryland citizens, introduced its 2020 legislative agenda.

The coalition will support a bill that will be introduced by Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), which would ensure that local jurisdictions would have assumed authority unless otherwise stated (implied preemption).

“This bill will add clarity to this process,” said MACo executive director Michael Sanderson. “Rather than having local laws struck down quietly in court through litigation, we’ll have those debates in the open through legislation. That’s how public policy ought to get done.”

“This legislation empowers local governments to enact laws that create jobs, preserve the environment, and promote the well-being of families and the community,” said bill sponsor Del. Karen Lewis Young, Frederick County, District 3A.

LOCAL Maryland will work to prevent potential preemption amendments in state legislation involving pesticides. In 2019, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals rejected an argument that local governments are impliedly preempted from regulating the use of pesticides and upheld a Montgomery County pesticide regulation. Three times in the past decade, the pesticide industry has attempted to preempt pesticide laws in the state and have failed.

Alan Cohen is a founding member of Safe Grow Montgomery, an all-volunteer group of residents, working to end exposure to non-essential lawn pesticides in Montgomery County.

“Safe Grow Montgomery is concerned that the chemical industry may approach state legislators during this General Assembly session. Their goal is to preempt local ordinances involving pesticides,” said Cohen. “Our group is excited to partner with LOCAL Maryland to allow the voices of Maryland localities to be heard. Silencing these voices endangers the health of our citizens.”

In 2019, advocacy organizations across Maryland — including 1199 SEIU, the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, the American Heart Association and National Employment Law Project — launched LOCAL Maryland. The coalition pays special attention to state legislation that would take away the ability of local governments to protect residents’ health and quality of life. During the 2019 General Assembly, LOCAL Maryland successfully advocated to keep preemption amendments out of the state’s minimum wage bill.

Sugar Free Kids Maryland executive director Shawn McIntosh leads the efforts of LOCAL Maryland. “Our coalition believes that every Maryland community has the right to healthy families, a clean environment and good jobs,” said McIntosh. “By supporting MACo’s efforts to ensure that local governments can preserve the right to assume authority, we can make that happen.

It is also our goal to protect local laws involving pesticides so that each of our state’s unique localities can govern in a manner that suits them best. One size does not always fit all.”

“Preemption has been a troubling trend,” added Sanderson. “Legislatures have been deciding that one size fits all and shutting down communities’ ability to react to their own needs. We don’t want to see that catch fire in Maryland and LOCAL Maryland brings together voices from across the state to stand up for our communities.”

LOCAL Maryland Town Halls Spark Spirited Conversations with NAACP Chapters

More than 25 NAACP members and other guests filled rooms in Prince George’s County and Howard County this September to learn more about preemption understand how preemption can hurt their health and quality of life, while sparking spirited conversation.

The town halls were facilitated by LOCAL Maryland, a coalition of state advocacy organizations committed to protecting the ability of local elected officials to pass laws that support healthy families, a clean environment and good jobs.

A discussion held at the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP Convention at Ocean City on Oct. 26, brought in more than 50 attendees and members that wanted to make a difference. Successful meetings in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County garnered significant interest in November.

Gerald Stansbury, President of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP wanted the audience to know exactly how preemption can specifically hurt is constituents. “It’s important for people of color to understand that preemption affects things we need like housing, safety and health,” said Stansbury. “It takes away the power of community. It takes your voice away. We need to start the conversation about preemption. This is our cause. We need to be on the front lines.”

Monica Young, representing Prince George’s County councilmember Jolene Ivey sat on the panel and emphasized how preemption affects local government. “Preemption impacts our ability to create laws that impact our community. Who knows you better than your state legislators? It’s important that your local legislators are able to work with you directly to know your needs.”