Criminal Justice Reform • Economic Justice • Education • Energy • Environment • Food System • Gun Safety • Health • Housing • Immigrant and Refugee Policies • Mental Health • Policing • Sustainable Local Economies
Mass incarceration destroys lives, families, and communities. It furthers racial injustice, creates astronomical costs to the state, and has not created greater safety. Lorig believes in policies that will enhance public safety and strengthen communities for all Marylanders by prioritizing prevention and treatment over lengthy incarceration. Maryland must end the school to prison pipeline, implement community-led policing strategies, eliminate the cash bail system, and create a regulated and taxed adult cannabis system. Sentencing reform should focus on shifting non-violent offenses to civil penalties, and prioritizing community supervision and treatment over lengthy incarceration whenever it is safe to do so. Policies must help previously incarcerated Marylanders reintegrate into society, and maximize the likelihood of their success through employment, education, and treatment. These approaches are both more humane and cost-effective than current policies. And most importantly, the funds saved through these reforms can be reinvested in treatment, prevention, and other social services.
Far too many Marylanders don’t know where their next meal will come from, and are living paycheck to paycheck, while the income and wealth gap continue to widen. Lorig will advocate for comprehensive legislation to build a just economy, which is the foundation that ensures working people can support their families’ futures. Economic justice includes fair pay, a $15 minimum wage, paid sick and family leave, worker protections, high quality healthcare, affordable childcare, and support for strong unions. State policy must support the worker training needed to advance in employment and enter new and promising industries.
Maryland schools rank high in national comparisons, but close to the bottom in terms of equity–an unacceptable achievement gap persists and every child does not receive the same opportunity to thrive. Lorig will fight for a high quality education for every student in Maryland by investing in education to end the achievement gap. Maryland must close corporate tax loopholes and direct these funds to school construction, increasing teacher recruitment and retention, universal pre-kindergarten programs, developing community schools, increasing diversity among teachers and leadership, and providing rigorous academic opportunities for all students throughout their academic careers. Maryland schools must shift toward greater use of restorative practices and conflict resolution to resolve underlying issues. In this way, we hold students accountable in school, rather than implement exclusionary discipline policies that fuel the school to prison pipeline. We must also provide tuition-free higher education for low and middle-income families.
The crisis of climate change demands that we decrease the use of carbon based energy sources as quickly as possible. Lorig believes in expanding renewable energy produced and used in Maryland. Renewable energy will create jobs, keep our air and water clean and give us more local control over those energy sources. Community solar, solar co-ops, bulk purchase and building offshore wind are means of expanding access to fossil-free electricity to all. Maryland must work toward a carbon tax and dividend, where electricity producers using coal and gas pay a fee per ton of carbon, and consumers get a dividend to help pay for higher priced electricity. In this way, lower income residents would get higher dividends, to ensure that they are not adversely impacted.
With anti-environmental zealots in power at the federal level, it is more important than ever than Maryland take steps to protect the environment and address the climate crisis. Lorig will fight to protect Maryland’s environment and address the causes and impacts of climate change. Our state must advance policies that restore and preserve a healthy Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Reducing run-off from our neighborhoods, commercial areas, and farms is vital. Maryland also needs to expand our recycling and compost programs. Policies that encourage reducing, reusing and recycling are our future. Additionally, Maryland must promote policies that encourage smart growth, so that our communities are pedestrian and bike friendly and people have access to public transportation. Finally, in encouraging the creation of an electric vehicle friendly infrastructure, our state will speed the transition away from carbon based energy sources.
Food systems cut across all sectors, affecting economic opportunity, physical health, and the environment. Our current system favors multi-national corporations and is harmful to our physical and environmental health. Lorig will fight to build a just and sustainable food system to provide fresh, nutritious food to all Marylanders. State policies and investments must prioritize creating economic opportunity for those who have been historically excluded from wealth building opportunities. State policy needs to support broad access to nutritious food and education to support healthy eating and must foster food production and food recovery to nurture a sustainable environment. Lorig believes we should prioritize community control over food systems to ensure that healthy, fresh, and culturally appropriate food is available to all Marylanders.
Maryland has made progress on gun safety, but too many precious lives are still being lost to gun homicides and suicides. Lorig will advocate for policies that close the loopholes that remain in an otherwise strong set of gun safety laws. The state must eliminate the “Misdemeanor Gap” for domestic violence-related offenses, to ensure those individuals are prohibited from retaining old guns or purchasing new guns in the future. We must also establish a clear and safe process to turn in weapons, once ordered by a judge to do so; and regulate the private sale of shotguns and rifles while expanding gun safety measures to include antique and antique replica guns.
In the richest country in the world, too many people live one health emergency away from bankruptcy. Many Marylanders go without preventative care, and the broader health disparities based on race and income remain a serious injustice. Lorig will advocate for a system that addresses health equity and provides quality care for all. A single payer healthcare system will provide equal and comprehensive care, while stabilizing health spending and costs. The benefits of a single payer healthcare insurance system would provide health insurance to all residents, delivering comprehensive quality care including preventative, wellness and chronic disease management, mental health, addiction recovery, basic dental and eye care, in addition to hospice and palliative care. Single payer insurance would support at home care and long-term care for those who qualify by income and disability, as well as ensure choice and portability. The cost of prescription drug prices must be addressed through drug price transparency, direct negotiation, and prosecution for price-gouging.
Lorig will promote policies that address the health needs of all Marylanders through programs that enhance the health of the population and promote health equity. Such programs include early childhood education, safe neighborhoods, quality housing with playgrounds, libraries, access to healthy food, adequate transportation and reduced youth violence.
Safe, affordable, quality housing in Maryland is a cornerstone on which families and communities must be able to depend, but this is not the current reality. Almost fifty percent of Montgomery County’s renters are housing cost burdened. Maryland’s history of race- and class- based redlining, and exclusionary zoning have resulted in active disinvestment in many communities. Lorig will fight for policies that support affordable housing in vibrant diverse neighborhoods, connected to jobs that pay a living wage.
Maryland must increase the housing stock, with inclusionary zoning that ensures quality housing options for individuals with low and moderate incomes. Tax incentives allocated by the state, such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, can help spur this local development. Furthermore, the Rehabilitative Tax Credit should be used to stave off the loss of current affordable housing, while improving its quality. State policies should widen housing options for families using Section 8 vouchers, by making it illegal for landlords to discriminate based on legal sources of income.
Community land trusts serve as a promising model for increasing affordable housing, both for rent and ownership, while ensuring that residents have real voice in the development of their communities. Maryland should increase investment in programs, such as the Maryland Mortgage Program, that support individuals with low and moderate incomes to purchase their first home; as well as programs that prevent foreclosure, whenever possible. Finally, Maryland should expand the Rental Allowance program to prevent homelessness and promote Housing First policies to address chronic homelessness in the state.
Immigrant and Refugee Policies
Our communities’ strength comes from diversity. We are richer because of our immigrant heritage, and our nation’s values include serving as a haven for those fleeing oppression and seeking a better life. Tragically, some immigrants live in fear because of federal policies and those espousing hate, and refugees are being turned away, putting them in grave danger. Lorig will advocate for policies so that Maryland is welcoming to and benefitting from contributions of immigrant and refugee Marylanders. In order to maintain the trust of all communities, regardless of legal status, Maryland must adopt legislation, such as the TRUST Act, which requires local law enforcement agencies to focus on fighting crime in our communities, rather than enforcing federal immigration laws. All community members must feel safe and secure, including in their ability to engage with law enforcement when they need such assistance. Maryland must continue to welcome refugees by ensuring sufficient funds are available for resettlement agencies, thus sending a clear message of welcome and inclusion.
People living with mental illness often struggle to get ongoing quality treatment, with too many suffering preventable, life-disrupting crisis, and many becoming incarcerated. Lorig will fight to build a comprehensive mental health system, with a focus on community treatment, including prevention, early intervention, recovery, 24/7 mental health crisis mobile units in every county in Maryland, assertive community treatment, funding for acute and crisis in-patient treatment and effective release planning with transition to out-patient care.
Maryland must ensure parity in health coverage, strengthening and monitoring laws that require public and private health insurance to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment equally as physical health. Maryland must ensure that reimbursement rates are sufficient to fund community mental health centers, eliminating waiting lists and providing comprehensive high quality care. Maryland must establish civil outpatient treatment program as a less restrictive treatment alternative for individuals cycling through crisis hospitalization and/or incarceration.
For policing to be effective, law enforcement agencies must work collaboratively with the communities they are sworn to serve, in a mutually trusting relationship. Yet in too many Maryland communities, that trust is absent. We can change that. Lorig is a leader and and innovator in community-led policing efforts that give residents a voice in how policing happens in their communities. Community-led policing can be the key to creating a criminal justice system that reduces harm and increases justice, community safety and trust in the police. Maryland police agencies must make crime prevention and harm reduction a priority over arrest and incarceration. Law enforcement strategies should encourage partnerships and joint problem-solving between officers and the communities they are sworn to protect. All officers must receive training and tools they need to police safely and with as little force as possible. Maryland should develop and implement initiatives to bolster officer wellness and emotional wellbeing, as well as the transparency and accountability measures that are necessary to achieve lasting police legitimacy.
Sustainable Local Economies
Small businesses are the foundation of healthy local economies, a way to build family and community wealth, and to support community resiliency. Too often, economic development policy focuses exclusively on attracting multi-national corporations, which can come and go based on the best deals offered in a race to the bottom for the communities they move through. A healthy local economy has a role for large corporations and anchor institutions, but must also prioritize small businesses. Lorig will promote policies that help develop local economies through the support and growth of small businesses, with a focus on creating wealth-building opportunities for people who have historically been excluded. Maryland should invest in training, shared-use infrastructure, access to credit, and access to markets for new and growing local businesses. Maryland business development strategies should seek to maximize local ownership and support the development of worker cooperatives. State procurement policies should prioritize locally owned businesses, those using sustainable practices, employing local workers, creating employment opportunities for people with limited opportunities, and paying prevailing wages.
”It’s hard keeping up with Lorig, let me tell you. I have to go all over the state to find her. But I will constantly be in pursuit of her because she is such a great leader in breaking the impasse over social conflicts, family conflicts, workplace conflicts, you name it. At a time when there is so much division and polarization in society, what we need is exactly the kind of work that Lorig has been doing to bring people together for constructive problem-solving. That’s why I’m thrilled to be able to salute Lorig and urge her on.”