About 100 people from Baltimore County and city and other Maryland jurisdictions participated in Jews United for Justice’s lobby night in Annapolis on Feb. 25. The event highlighted issues including raising the minimum wage, discriminatory rent and housing policies, limiting solitary confinement and improving the safety of immigrants. It was JUFJ’s largest turnout for the annual lobbying event.
Claire Landers is a longtime member of JUFJ and co-chair of its Baltimore Leadership Council. She was part of a group of 15 that visited 11th District legislators Dels. Shelly Hettleman and Dana Stein on lobby night.
“We asked for Del. Hettleman’s help in getting the strongest possible minimum wage bill passed in the House. In our meeting with Del. Stein, we discussed his continued efforts around protecting local immigrants from ICE overreach here in Maryland, and asked for his support on bills that would make Rent Court function in a fundamentally more balanced and fair way for renters across the state,” Landers said.
Landers said she doesn’t know how workers, especially single parents, survive on the current $10.10 an hour minimum wage, or about $21,000 a year. She noted that most people making minimum wage are women and people of color and that more than 600,000 Maryland workers could benefit from a bump to $15 an hour.
“It’s promising that many of our legislators have committed to making this a reality. However, there are numerous carve outs for communities like youth workers, agricultural workers, tipped workers,” she said. “And, indexing to the inflation rate is currently not a part of the bill, which is critically important, so the General Assembly does not have to re-address this problem every time the wage needs to be increased. It should keep up with the cost of living.”
One of the bill’s JUFJ supports, the Trust Act, would prevent police from asking people about their immigration status. The bill has had a tough time in Annapolis, failing to pass in the last few years.
Landers said that if immigrant communities are comfortable reporting crimes to police without fear, that will lead to heightened safety for everyone, immigrant or not.