Media Contact

Neydin Milián;

January 6, 2020

BALTIMORE, MD – On the sixth episode of Thinking Freely, “Maryland 2020: Power to the People in the General Assembly”, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland discusses the power Marylanders hold during the 90-day legislative session in Annapolis — our state capital. This legislative session is an opportunity to reform laws that could create a better Maryland. Featuring Toni Holness, the ACLU’s public policy director, and Justin Nalley, policy analyst, education, and Joe Spielberger, public policy counsel, this month’s podcast talk will address the importance of making your voice heard in Annapolis. The conversation will inform Marylanders about six of ACLU of Maryland’s priority issues this session: (1) Equity for Maryland’s school children, (2) the Trust Act, to defend the rights of immigrants in our communities, (3) equality in support services for women who are exiting the criminal legal system, (4) transparency in policing, (5) the right to vote behind bars, and (6) due process for children entangled in the criminal so-called “justice” system.

Thinking Freely informs Marylanders about opportunities to get involved to create real change. By focusing on cutting edge issues in Maryland, like last month’s episode on centering race and wealth equity in the Maryland education system, Thinking Freely provides listeners with ways that they can get involved and be active in their communities. Amber Taylor, host and producer of Thinking Freely, and the featured guests tackle how to navigate, be present, and active during the complex 90-day legislative session and why it is so critical to take an active role during this session.  

ACLU’s Toni Holness said: “Laws should serve peoples’ interest. They should not be negotiated and voted on and enacted in a vacuum. It’s really important that our legislators hear how the decisions they are making every single day, several times a day, for 90 days, are going to impact the people that they serve.” 

The Maryland General Assembly is a state legislature that has 90 days each year to vote on about 2,300 bills. During this period, legislators should hear from their constituents, so that they keep the voices of those impacted individuals in mind as they vote on issues that will affect the daily lives of many people in Maryland.

ACLU’s Joe Spielberger said: “We are counting on all of our listeners and supporters to get engaged and help us pass these really critical bills. Even if you don’t feel directly impacted by some of these issues, I guarantee that they are affecting people in your community.” 

Last session, the ACLU of Maryland submitted testimony on over 200 bills on a multitude of civil liberties issues. And every session, the ACLU plays both offense and defense, as our public policy team fends off attacks from law makers seeking to undermine our civil liberties. They also work to support lawmakers who are fighting to protect and strengthen our rights. Each year, Marylanders have the opportunity to make their voices heard in Annapolis as legislators work to pass bills into law.

ACLU’s Justin Nalley said: “When you have people who are willing to be vulnerable in front of the committees and share their experiences, it really just shows how this work can make a difference and affect people’s day to day lives.” 

Marylanders have the right to express their views on bills that will make an impact on their communities and hopefully change our laws to create a greater future for every resident in Maryland. Together, we can advocate for a better tomorrow.  

Thinking Freely is back with another cutting-edge episode that will inform Marylanders on what is happening locally in politics and ways that they can act to make an impact.  Listen to this episode of Thinking Freely and learn about what we as Marylanders can do during this legislative period in Maryland! Listen here.

SUBSCRIBE: Thinking Freely is available on Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, Radio Public, Listen Notes, Stitcher, and Pandora.

EPISODE 6: Maryland 2020: Power to the People in the General Assembly