Shamoyia Gardiner, Policy Associate & Matt Quinlan, Policy Specialist
We are the Policy Team here at Family League, and we’ve worked hard this year to ensure that lawmakers were well informed about the needs and concerns facing Baltimore City youth and families. While compromise is always part of the legislative process, we’re happy to report that many bills addressing issues we care about will now become law.
Policies ensuring the fair and equitable treatment of students fared well this session, with the passage of a bill that will ban public schools from suspending or expelling students in pre-K through 2nd grade, as well as a bill that establishes a Commission to study the school-to-prison pipeline and restorative practices. These are vitally important equity issues that contribute to creating an environment where children thrive in school and can graduate ready to work or pursue higher education. Another area of success for youths was in leveling the playing field for college applicants and ensuring affordability for our most vulnerable college students. These bills make important strides toward eliminating barriers to higher education opportunities.
Family League is committed to ensuring that students come to school healthy and ready to learn. We supported legislation that increased access to school breakfast, and we strongly supported the Hunger-Free Schools Act, which will guarantee that all Baltimore City Public School students continue to have access to universal free school breakfast and lunch. School meals are a critical component in school success. We know that when children start the day with a meal, they are ready to learn and thrive throughout the day. Check out our op-ed on this topic in the Baltimore Sun!
Strong, healthy families are key to strong communities. We collaborated with our friends at Working Matters to support the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which will provide over 700,000 Maryland families access to paid sick and safe leave! Additionally, Family League is proud to have supported a bill that will restore SNAP and TCA benefits to nonviolent drug offenders and their families immediately upon their reentry to society.
Of course, we didn’t achieve these wins on our own. We worked closely with many coalitions across the City to promote a legislative agenda that prioritizes children and families in Baltimore. We had countless meetings with legislators and policy makers; and our President & CEO Jonathon Rondeau testified before committees as these bills were being heard.
We are delighted to see so many good bills become law, and will closely monitor their implementation to be sure that the children, youth, and families of Baltimore City feel the benefits of the new legislation in the years to come.
For more information on the bills we supported, please check out our Legislative Updates and other testimony from Session 2017 here.