- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Although she noted the opposition in the county to the recently passed state gun control bill, Del. Sally Y. Jameson (D-Charles) had positive things to say about stormwater mitigation funding — the so-called “rain tax” — on Saturday.
Over lunch at The Prime Street Grille in White Plains, the nearly 30 attendees at the United Democratic Women’s Southern Maryland regional meeting heard a presentation from Jameson on the last legislative session, along with one from Matthew Henson of the statewide Raise the Minimum Wage campaign.
In between briefing the group on items that had passed through the General Assembly during this year’s legislative session, Jameson offered her support to any women in the room considering running for office.
“Women, we need you. There aren’t enough,” Jameson said. “And who takes care of details? Who can juggle three things at a time? ... It’s women. When women say that they’re going to do something, they do it.”
While she did not address all the legislation that the session addressed, Jameson did note that the gun control debate was the one she received the most feedback on from her constituents. Jameson, who voted against the bill, noted that county residents were overwhelmingly against the gun control measures. The bill, which Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed into law last month, included stipulations for fingerprinting and licensing for purchases, and banned models of certain semiautomatic weapons and ammunition clips that hold more than 10 bullets.
Jameson also discussed the “rain tax,” which she regarded as a positive.
“Anything we can do to clean up the [Chesapeake Bay] 10 years earlier certainly makes sense to me,” Jameson said.
The tax comes as part of an Environmental Protection Agency order dating back to 2010 to reduce pollutants in the Chesapeake watershed. The Charles County commissioners are considering how to implement the bill locally, with fees ranging from $64 for rural properties, and $32 for urban homes, to a flat $43 fee on every property.
UDW’s Charles County coordinator Natalie McKinney said the county typically hosts one meeting a year. The region for the club, she said, also includes Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties in addition to the three Southern Maryland counties, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s. The group, which aims to give Democratic women a voice in politics and a means of support for those who wish to run for office, has chapters across the state, and is formally connected with the Democratic Party. In Charles County, McKinney said, the group has around 15 members.
“I think that it was very successful. The turnout was great ... and we had a lot of people from all across the state,” McKinney said. “One of the important things is that as women, we need to come together and spread Democratic ideals. Women are the ones who make things known and spread these ideas and ... maybe this can help us come together.”
In his presentation, Henson spoke of the legislation that came before the state this year that advocated raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour from the current $7.25. The bill was defeated, but Henson said it managed to gain 50 percent of state senate members and 45 percent of house delegates as co-sponsors. Henson noted that the current minimum wage equates to about $15,000 a year for those who earn it, an amount that it is “impossible” to live on in Maryland.
“Maryland is No. 1 in a lot of things ... but we’re falling down the ladder on this,” Henson said. “I think we’re all in agreement that this is not fair.”
Henson urged the group to consider how minimum wage affects “the single mother working her butt off to feed her family,” and stressed that it is not just “high school students looking for fun money” making minimum wage: rather, he said, an increased minimum wage would affect more than 466,000 workers across the state.
“It means that we could pass a law with a positive impact on so many people,” Henson said, expressing his belief that the failed legislation would pass in the next session.
Jameson did not back the proposed minimum wage legislation. Across the region, Del. Peter F. Murphy (D-Charles) was its only backer.
Waldorf resident Marie Bottoms said she most enjoyed Jameson’s talk but that she felt the minimum wage issue bears the most significance statewide.
“It’s important because a lot of young kids make minimum wage, but so do a lot of adults. It’s hard to make it on that in Charles County,” Bottoms said. “That could improve their living condition.”
Bottoms said she has previously attended UDW meetings and that she considers them important for women wishing to stay involved.
“I’m glad I put this in my calendar,” Bottoms said. “To see women working together is really awesome.”