Peace & Justice Coalition of Prince Georges County
People to people working for change
19 Woodland Way
Greenbelt, MD 20770
February 16, 2004
Prince Georges County Delegation
Maryland General Assembly
A prime concern of the two dozen grassroots organizations working together
in our coalition is social justice-- a fair deal for our neighbors who are disadvantaged
by their place on the economic ladder, or discriminated against by race or ethnicity. This
concern is indeed a major cord that ties us together. Justice is also the common thread
among these legislative measures which we particularly urge you to support this year:
- Fair taxation, so that the state budget can include full funding, not only for the
Thornton "Bridge to Excellence" in our schools, but also for the many other
public services of special value to middle- and working-class Marylanders. Fair taxation
means balancing the budget by raising income tax rates only on the wealthiest households,
and by closing a number of corporate tax loopholes besides the three removed last year,
only to be retained via the Governors veto. We endorse the "Easy Money"
plan, promoted by Progressive Maryland, which could raise some $800 million by such
measures- and definitely not by gambling revenue or another penny of sales tax, both of
which would prey on poorer families.
- Living wages for employees of state contractors, so that at least as taxpayers we no
longer demand any workers to provide goods and services for poverty-level income. Last
year we applauded the passage of a living wage bill by Prince Georges County
Council; now we hope youll agree its time the state followed its example,
along with that of Baltimore City and Montgomery County.
- Fair elections, so the interests of every population group are represented on the
ballot and their votes counted in the results. This calls for reform of campaign financing
via public funding, as recommended by the bipartisan Sternberg Commission; and it
positively requires a continued paper trail of voting records, pending resolution of the
technical and security issues that raise serious doubts about the new electronic voting
- Expanded weapons control, putting assault rifles on the state roster of banned
handguns, so as to take another reasonable step toward public safety in the least affluent
neighborhoods where violent crime is concentrated.
- Repeal of the death penalty, so that our criminal justice system finally stops
inflicting injustices in meting out the ultimate penalty. It seems those in power have
forgotten the findings of great geographic and racial disparities, reported last year by a
thorough, General Assembly-funded study of this issue. By no means allow any extension of
capital punishment! The examination time has passed; reform is overdue. Will some of you
put this back on the legislative agenda?
Our members, your constituents, trust that you share our commitment to
social justice in Maryland and so expect you will use your good influence to promote each
of these steps toward it.
Very truly yours,
Bertram Donn, Coordinator (301-474-1353)
Duff, Secretary (301-577-2350)